Nearly half of US adults infected with genital HPV

Health experts believe that the reduction in HPV may lead to a commensurate drop in cervical cancer cases Getty Images

Health experts believe that the reduction in HPV may lead to a commensurate drop in cervical cancer cases Getty Images

The percentage almost doubles if any type of genital HPV is included. Rather than contemplate whether or not to vaccinate, parents looking to keep their kids safe should be eager to do so, and should arguably be welcoming of the preventative cancer care.

Every year, 14 million new infections occur among teens and adults. Geraldine McQuillan, a senior infectious disease epidemiologist with the CDC and the lead author of the report, said researchers were surprised to see the number of adults who had high-risk genital HPV. "If effective, this approach can be a cheap, women-controlled way that can empower women to protect themselves from HPV and cervical cancer", says Einstein.

The research, which was funded by the Scottish government, looked at samples from more than 20,000 women, making it one of the largest population-based studies on the impact of the vaccine. And studies have shown that behaviors in the bedroom-including cunnilingus-are consistently associated with oral HPV infection.

In fact, nearly every sexually active man or woman will get it during their lifetime. The virus is usually spread by direct contact with diseased genital skin or mucous membranes during intercourse or oral sex.

Many people never show symptoms, and the majority of cases go away without treatment. But in other cases, the infection can linger and lead to health problems, including genital warts and cancer.

About 4 percent of all adults had an oral infection with a cancer-causing strain of HPV. The rate jumped in two years from 23 percent to 42 percent with more men than women having HPV.

Researchers found that certain high-risk strains of HPV infect 25.1 percent of men and 20.4 percent of women in the United States.

'People really need to realize that this is a serious concern'. Health officials therefore recommend HPV vaccinations for boys and girls aged 11 to 12 - before they become sexually active and are potentially exposed to the virus. "The program is newer for boys, however, and we expect this rate to increase over time", she said.

Experts say that there are several misconceptions and fears that continue to permeate the public and result in lower rates of HPV vaccination.

"It reinforces powerfully the current standard recommendations of the CDC [and other groups] that all boys and girls - preteens and teens - should be vaccinated with HPV vaccine", he said. "This vaccine should have been introduced as a vaccine that will prevent cancer, not sexually transmitted infections".

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