According to the CDC, approximately 20 million Americans are currently infected with HPV. Every year another 6 million are infected, making HPV so common that half of all sexually active adults will experience this during their lifetime.
The CDC fact sheet on HPV provides the following statistics:
- Two of the main issues related to HPV are genital warts and cervical cancer.
- Genital warts can affect approximately 1% of sexually active men and women in the United States. Cervical cancer affects about 12,000 women in the United States.
Other cancers that can be caused by HPV are less common than cervical cancer.
Each year in the United States, there are approximately:
• 1,500 women who get HPV-associated vulvar cancer
• 500 women who get HPV-associated vaginal cancer
• 400 men who get HPV-associated penile cancer
• 2,700 women and 1,500 men who get HPV-associated anal cancer
• 1,500 women and 5,600 men who get HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancers (cancers of the back of throat including base of tongue and tonsils)
[Note: Many of these cancers may also be related to tobacco and alcohol use.]
People with weak or compromised immune systems are at a greater risk for contracting HPV.
How can people prevent HPV?
While there is no guarantee that HPV can be avoided, there have been vaccines that can prevent many types of cancers as well as warts. The vaccines can be given to children as young as nine years old for both boys and girls, but if given between the ages of 11 and 12 it is very highly effective.
There are two vaccines which have been developed for women and girls to help protect them from developing cervical cancer should they contract the strain of HPV which can cause it. These vaccines are called Cervarix and Gardasil.
Gardasil has also been proven to protect against most genital warts, as well as cervical, vulvar, vaginal and even anal cancer. Girls can begin getting vaccinated from the age of nine years old.
It is recommended that the same brand of vaccine be used for all types to limit an adverse reaction.