40% of U.S. Adults Under 60 Carry HPV

40% of U.S. Adults Under 60 Carry HPVHuman papillomavirus (HPV) is a common infection that can cause a myriad of health problems. According to a recent report, it’s also incredibly widespread in the United States population.
Startling Numbers
Nearly half of all U.S. adults are infected with some form of HPV, according to researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the study found that, among adults aged 18 to 69 years, 42.5 percent have genital HPV, while over seven percent are infected with oral HPV. What’s more, researchers caution that this report offers only conservative estimates without factoring in populations that might be considered high risk.

What’s the Risk?

Health experts say HPV is so common, just about every sexually active man and woman will contract it during his or her lifetime. In most cases, individuals are able to recover from an HPV infection without any problems. Sometimes, however, the viral infection can cause serious complications.
Research suggests that HPV infections are responsible for more than 70 percent of all oral and throat cancers. The virus is also believed to cause over 90 percent of anal cancers and over 60 percent of penile cancers. HPV can also cause genital warts, cervical cancer and, in rare instances, tumors in the respiratory tract.

Preventing the Spread

While HPV vaccines are available, they are not approved for adults over the age of 26 in the United States. Fortunately, these people can minimize their risk of infection by maintaining mutually monogamous relationships or by wearing latex condoms and dental dams during sex.
The CDC recommends that boys and girls get two doses of the HPV vaccine starting at ages 11 or to 12. Since the vaccine’s introduction in 2006, HPV infections have dropped 60 percent in teenage girls and 34 percent in young women. This has left experts optimistic that continued vaccination will ultimately bring HPV infections below epidemic levels.
Getting Treatment
Right now, there are no effective treatments for HPV or approved tests to effectively determine a patient’s “HPV status.” That said, doctors can prescribe medications for cervical pre-cancer and genital warts. If you suspect you may have an HPV infection, visit your physician for an evaluation. You should also strongly consider getting your children vaccinated as soon as they reach the appropriate age.

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