One in four women 14-59 years old, and almost ½ (45%) of women 14-24 years old are infected with HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) based on a study of 2000 women tested in 2003-04 and published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association JAMA.
HPV is a sexually transmitted virus that is usually without any symptoms, but can cause genital warts (or papillomas). The warts can be treated (by topical medication or freezing), but the virus cannot be eradicated.
Cervical cancer is a sexually transmitted diseased caused by several different strains of HPV.
There are over dozens of strains of HPV and only a few strains can cause cervical cancer.
11,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year and 3600 die from it. (almost entirely preventable with regular PAP tests and appropriate followup)
The new HPV vaccine Gardasil, developed by UR researchers, protects against two strains of HPV which cause 70% of the cases of cervical cancer. It is recommended (and now required in Texas) for girls and women between the ages of 9 and 26.
It is predicted that the vaccine will prevent most cases of cervical cancer, save up to 3000 lives per year and largely eliminate these strains of HPV.
HPV is thought to be common in men, but this has not been well studied.