17 December 2004
Human Papillomavirus Widespread In Adolescents
Four out of five sexually active adolescent women taking part in a new study were found to be infected with human papillomavirus (HPV), a virus linked to cervical cancer and genital warts. Indiana University School of Medicine researcher Darron R. Brown studied 60 adolescent women, ages 14 to 17, at care clinics around Indianapolis and reported the results in The Journal of Infectious Diseases.
HPV infection is a common sexually transmitted infection whose effects may range from asymptomatic carriage of the virus to genital warts to cervical cancer. In this study, 95 percent of the subjects were sexually active and 85 percent were African American.
During the course of the study, 49 of 60 subjects tested positive for HPV infection and many of the participants were infected with not just one, but multiple, HPV types. Among these different types, a substantial number were those associated with an increased risk for cervical cancer. Over a third of the study participants had at least one abnormal result for cervical examination during the study period.
The study confirms previous findings that HPV infection is common in sexually active adolescent women. "We hope the results of our research increase our understanding of HPV infection in this population," said Brown, "and help others design effective interventions to prevent infection in adolescent women."