A shocking new study has found that more than half (56 percent) of young adults in sexual relationships are infected with human papillomavirus (HPV). Of those, 44 percent were infected with an HPV type that causes cancer.
The new study, published in the journal Epidemiology and Sexually Transmitted Diseases, was carried out to determine the prevalence of HPV infections among recently formed couples. This is the first large-scale study of HPV infection among couples early in their sexual relationships. The researchers defined new couples as those who have been together for six months or less.
The results also indicate there is a high probability of HPV transmission between partners. When one partner had HPV, the researchers observed that in 42 percent of couples, the other partner also had the infection. Moreover, the researchers found that the presence of HPV in one partner was the strongest predictor of finding the same HPV type in the other partner. If one partner was infected with HPV, the other partner's chance of also being infected with the same HPV type increased over 50 times.
"These results build on our knowledge that HPV infection is very common among young adults, and underline the importance of prevention programs for HPV-associated diseases such as cervical cancer screening and HPV vaccination," said researcher Dr. Ann Burchell. "Our results also suggest that HPV is an easy virus to get and to transmit."
"Our study is the first to investigate HPV transmission in a large number of new couples among young adults," added co-researcher Dr. François Coutlée, from the Université de Montréal. "The results suggest that many HPV transmissions occur at the start of new relationships, which reinforces the need for prevention."
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Source: McGill University