Nearly half of US adults infected with genital HPV

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The research team, led by Dr Kevin Pollock, senior epidemiologist at Health Protection Scotland, believe the reduction in HPV may lead to a commensurate drop in cervical cancer cases, and hope to see a decrease in new diagnoses within a year. "Other types are considered high risk, causing cancer in different areas of the body including the cervix and vagina in women, penis in men, and anus and oropharynx (mouth and throat) in both men and women".

'People really need to realize that this is a serious concern'.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted virus that is responsible for the majority of cervical cancer cases.

In addition, because the second HPV shot is supposed to be given anywhere from six months to a year after the first one, "parents can fit it into a routine regimen when people go in for their 12-year-old's regularly scheduled visit", said Dr. Joseph Bocchini Jr., chairman of pediatrics at Louisiana State University Health in Shreveport who is president-elect at the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

Some types of HPV can cause genital warts and are considered low risk, with a small chance for causing cancer, the CDC report said. What's more, almost half (42.5 percent) of adults had general cases of genital HPV.

"The next step is to increase awareness of the high prevalence of high-risk genital and oral HPV in our general U.S. 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 said. "These results suggest that this vaccine will also have a significant impact on these cancers in the years ahead". Overall the prevalence was highest among blacks and lowest among Asians. In the United States, high-risk HPV among adults ages 18-59 was found at a staggering rate of 22.7 percent.

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While great progress has been made in creating HPV vaccines, current approaches to prevent infection have limitations.

The Gardasil vaccination is most effective if administered before a young person becomes sexually active. Each year, 31,000 men and women are diagnosed with cancers caused by HPV - which, in most cases, would have been preventable with the HPV vaccine, according to the CDC. The CDC recommends the HPV vaccine for young women through the age of 26, and for young men through 21.

The study was conducted using Gardasil 9, a version of the vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration in late 2014.

While vaccination rates have been increasing, they still lag for both boys and girls.

Public health advocates say they think the shift to a two-dose regimen could make a big difference in the number of adolescents who get all the necessary doses of the HPV vaccine. "It is a cancer vaccine", Paskett said.

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