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HPV Vaccine May Prevent Cervical Cancer

A new vaccine for human papilloma virus (HPV) is being tested at Johns Hopkins University and would be a major breakthrough for women’s health, because certain strains of the virus are believed to cause cervical cancer. HPV is contracted through sexual contact with an infected person, but can also be transmitted by skin-to-skin genital contact without ejaculation. An estimated 40 to 80 percent of Americans are infected with HPV, certain strains of which cause genital warts on women and men, but women infected with the virus can suffer a far more severe side effect-cervical cancer-if the virus goes undetected. HPV can result in dysplasia (abnormal cell changes), which could indicate pre-cancerous cells on the cervix. Women should receive an annual pap smear, which can detect abnormalities that may be early signs of cervical cancer. There is no way to prevent the transmission of HPV except for abstinence.

Sources:

Center for Disease Control, Washington Post Ð February 21, 2001; Reuters Health Report Ð February 20, 2001