According to the CDC’s latest report on the prevalence of human papillomavirus (HPV), more than 42 percent of all American adults from age 18 through 59 are infected with genital HPV. More worryingly, the analysis found that some high-risk strains of human papillomavirus infect 25.1 percent of men and 20.4 percent of women in the United States.

The high-risk HPV strains account for around 31,000 cases of cervical cancer each year, according to numbers cited by the New York Times.

Geraldine McQuillan, epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and co-author of the new report, speaking to Live Science, said the researchers are hoping the findings will make people aware of the importance of getting vaccinated against the virus, and added that the finding:

“is disturbing, and really needs to be noted so parents will get their young adolescents vaccinated before they become sexually active."

Human papillomavirus is a group of more than 150 related viruses. Each HPV virus in this large group is given a number which is called its HPV type. Men and women can get cancer of mouth/ throat, and anus/rectum caused by HPV infections. Men can also get penile HPV cancer. In women, HPV infection can also cause cervical, vaginal, and vulvar HPV cancers.

There are, however, vaccines that can prevent infection with the types of HPV that most commonly cause cancer.

The prevalence of any and high-risk genital HPV was lower among non-Hispanic Asian and higher among non-Hispanic black than both non-Hispanic white and Hispanic men and women, the report found. Men had a higher prevalence of oral HPV than women overall.

The data for the report came from large national health surveys, which included HPV tests, taken in 2011 through 2014.

McQuillan G, Kruszon-Moran D, Markowitz LE, Unger ER., Paulose-Ram R. Prevalence of HPV in adults aged 18–69: United States, 2011–2014 NCHS data brief, no 280. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2017

Image: MRC NIMR, Wellcome Images

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