Whopping 70% of Americans Have the HPV Virus

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | May 22, 2014 1:54 PM EST

A study newly released by researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center has disclosed that a whopping 70 per cent of Americans have the human papillomavirus (HPV) which are typically transmitted through sexual contact.

REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun
A man sells condoms on Feb. 18 in Yangon, Myanmar. Even as a national debate rages over contraception insurance, tens of thousands of low-income women and teenagers across the United States have lost access to subsidized birth control as states slash and restructure family-planning funds.

Researchers took DNA from the skin, mouth, vagina and gut of 103 men and women, aged 18 to 80. They found 69 per cent of the subjects carried at least one of the 109 of 148 known strains of the virus, while 4 per cent had one of two strains which may lead to cervical cancer, throat cancer and genital warts.

Most of the HPV infections were detected in the skin (61 per cent), followed by the vagina (41 per cent), mouth (30 per cent) and gut (17 percent). Of the 71 people infected with HPV, 59 per cent had HPV in one organ, 31 per cent had HPV in two organs, 10 per cent had HPV in three organs, and none had HPV in all four organs.

The subjects' skins carried the greatest number of HPV strains, where there were 80 types of HPV, including 40 found only in the skin. The second highest number of HPV strains was found in the vagina (43 types of HPV, with 20 exclusive to the vagina), followed by the mouth (33 HPV types, with five exclusive to the mouth), and the gut (six types of HPV, all of which were found in other organs).

"Our study offers initial and broad evidence of a seemingly 'normal' HPV viral biome in people that does not necessarily cause disease and that could very well mimic the highly varied bacterial environment in the body, or microbiome, which is key to maintaining good health," Dr. Zhiheng Pei, senior study investigator and a pathologist and associate professor, said in a statement.

The HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Nearly all sexually active men and women get it at some point in their lives."

The agency added HPV leads to serious complications for many people. In the U.S., 360,000 people get genital warts every year, while 10,000 women develop HPV-related cervical cancer.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun / )
A man sells condoms on Feb. 18 in Yangon, Myanmar. Even as a national debate rages over contraception insurance, tens of thousands of low-income women and teenagers across the United States have lost access to subsidized birth control as states slash and restructure family-planning funds.
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