New report says 1 in 5 Americans have cancer-causing HPV

The human papillomavirus  – or HPV – is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States.  There are 150 distinct types, two of them are responsible – according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention – for 70 percent of cervical cancer

The CDC announced last week that nearly half of U.S. adults have caught HPV. That is nearly 80 million Americans and about 20 percent of them — or 1 in 5 — have the kind the causes cancer. Other types of HPV cause genital warts.

 

 

About 45 percent of Americans ages 18 to 59 had some form of genital human papillomavirus. The report released last Thursday is the most complete look at how common HPV is among adults.

More concerning, about 25 percent of men and 20 percent of women had certain strains that carry a higher risk of cancer.

Vaccinations against HPV first became available in 2006, aimed at protecting kids before they become sexually active.

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.

Previous data estimated that 15 percent of adult females had high-risk HPV.

“The next step is to increase awareness of the high prevalence of high-risk genital and oral HPV in our general US population so individuals will realize that this is a serious problem and they will get their children vaccinated in early adolescence before they become sexually active,” McQuillan told CNN.

Racial gap found in cervical cancer deaths

A new study says the death rate from Cervical cancer is significantly higher among U.S. blacks than for white women

The medical journal Cancer on Monday published the finding that the rate black American women are dying from the disease is akin to that of women in many poor developing nations.

 

cervical-cancer
Cervical cancer cells. (Courtesy Creative Commons)

Experts say what is especially disturbing is that cervical cancer is largely preventable through screenings.

“This shows that our disparities are even worse than we feared,” said Dr. Kathleen M. Schmeler, an associate professor of gynecologic oncology at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

“We have screenings that are great, but many women in America are not getting them.”

Schmeler, speaking to the New York Times, said President  Donald Trump’s  plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act could make matters worse because it covers screening and may result in the closing of family planning clinics, which performs the test.

The mortality rate for black women was 10.1 per 100,000. For white women, it is 4.7 per 100,000, according to the study.

Some doctors said the disparity could reflect unequal access to screening and insurance coverage.

Cervical cancer is caused, in most cases, by the virus called human papillomavirus, or HPV. It can be transmitted through sexual contact. There is a vaccine for women 26 years and younger.