One in four U.S. women ages 14 to 59 is infected with the sexually transmitted virus that in some forms can cause cervical cancer, according to the first broad national estimate.[...]
Dr. Dunne said HPV prevalence is thought to be high in men as well, but none were studied
An estimated 11,150 U.S. women will be diagnosed this year with cervical cancer, and about 3,670 will die from it. Numbers are much higher worldwide, especially in developing countries where Pap tests to detect cervical cancer are not routine.
The new vaccine, Merck's Gardasil, was approved last June for girls and women aged 9 to 26. It protects against two HPV strains believed responsible for about 70 per cent of cervical cancer cases, and two other strains that cause 90 per cent of genital wart cases.
Other vaccines are in the works to protect against other HPV strains, Dr. Collins said.
Women aged 20 to 24 had the highest overall HPV prevalence in the study, 44.8 per cent. Prevalence increased each year from ages 14 to 24, then dropped off gradually, confirming that young, sexually active women face the greatest risk of infection.
The study underscores the need for young women to get vaccinated, and to get routine Pap tests, said Dr. Howard Jones, a gynecologic cancer specialist at Vanderbilt University.
Dr. Richard Haupt, medical affairs director in Merck's vaccine division, said the study “reinforces the idea that Gardasil would have great benefit” for young women.
As we do with AIDS in Africa, it seems our approach to serious diseases caused by sexual behaviour is to fight them by any means other than trying to change behaviour. This is not really very surprising as it has been clear for a long time that modern Western men and women will go to the most extreme lengths to deny any authority, whether moral, legal, scientific or otherwise, that would compromise their absolute sexual freedom or suggest a public interest in their sexual practices. As we suspect the most at-risk here are the poor and vulnerable, undoubtedly much of the more-favoured segment of the population feels the consequences are well worth the price.