1. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the United States
Currently, more than 20 million people are
infected with HPV. Each year, more than 6.2 million new infections occur in the U.S.
2. Most sexually active people have at least one strain of
It's safe to say that if you have had sex with more than one person OR your partner has had sex with more than one person, you have been exposed to
HPV. More than 50 percent of sexually active people are infected with itat some point in their lives; some studies suggest that more than 80 percent of women will
have HPV by age 50.
3. There are more than 100 different strains of HPV; most do not cause cancer
The different strains are divided into
high-risk (cancer-causing potential) and low-risk. Two of the high-risk strains (Type 16 and 18) account for 70 percent of all cases of cervical cancer. Two other
strains (Type 6 and 11) account for 90 percent of genital warts cases.
4. More than 99 percent of cervical cancer cases are caused by
Cervical cancer is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in women worldwide, resulting in 500, 000 diagnoses and 240, 000 deaths each
year. In 2007, an estimated 11, 100 cases will be diagnosed in the U.S. and 3, 700 women, or 10 per day, will die.
5. Routine Pap smears can
virtually eliminate a woman's chance of developing invasive cervical cancer
Of women who receive routine Pap smears, 35 percent will have at least one
abnormal Pap and 25 percent will have CIN (cervical intraepithelial neoplasia), a precursor to cervical cancer. With treatment, less than one percent of these women
will reach the point of developing invasive cervical cancer.
6. HPV causes 100 percent of Genital Warts cases
Genital warts are not cancerous,
and consist of soft, white or flesh-colored clusters on the genitals. They can be treated through cryosurgery (which kills the cells by freezing), acid treatment (which
kills the cells by burning), or topical cream. Around one million new cases occur each year in the U.S.
7. The new HPV vaccine Gardasil is now widely
Gardasil is the only HPV vaccine currently available in the United States. It prevents infection by four of the highest-risk strains of HPV, causing 70
percent of all cervical cancer cases and 90 percent of all genital warts cases. It is given in three injections over a period of six months and is recommended for
women and girls age 9-26. Girls 18 and younger who are uninsured or on Medicaid are eligible for free Gardasil through the Virginia Vaccines For Children program.
Women who are uninsured or underinsured and between the ages of 19 and 26 are eligible to receive the vaccine for free through the Merck Assistance
8. Gardasil only prevents future infection; it does not cure current infection
Gardasil will not affect any current HPV infection in women. It
will only guard against future infection. Women who have been diagnosed with HPV may still receive Gardasil; even if they already have one of the four strains
Gardasil prevents, they will still be protected from the remaining three strains.