69% of Sexually Active Americans Infected with HPV

Researchers determined that 69% of sexually active Americans adults have manifested 1 or more of 109 strains of human papillomavirus (HPV).

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States; the virus is transferable through skin-to-skin contact.

“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,” says senior study investigator and pathologist, Zhiheng Pei, MD, PhD.

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Pei and other investigators at NYU Langone Medical Center monitored the interaction between non-cancerous HPV genotypes and cancerous strains, 16 and 18, to study inherent cancer triggers.

Via the National Institutes of Health Human Microbiome Project data, researchers analyzed 748 tissue swabs of major organs, including the vagina, mouth, intestines, and skin, from participants ages 18 to 80.

After removing all human DNA sequencing, the HPV strains were compared with prominent national databases on HPV.

Researchers found:

  • 109 of 148 known HPV strains were detected in participants.
  • Participants reported HPV infections in the skin (61%), vagina (41%), mouth (30%), and gut (17%).
  • 71 participants had HPV: 59% in 1 organ, 22% in 2 organs, and 10% in 3.
  • Skin samples carried 80 different strains of HPV, followed by vaginal tissue (43, of which 20 are exclusive to the organ), mouth (33), and intestinal (6).

These findings were presented at the American Society for Microbiology annual meeting.

New York University. Study suggests more than two-thirds of healthy Americans are infected with human papilloma viruses [press release]. 2014 May 20. http://communications.med.nyu.edu/media-relations/news/study-suggests-more-two-thirds-healthy-americans-are-infected-human-papilloma. Accessed May 21, 2014.