The Journal of the American Medical Association (AMA) reports that over one-third of American women are infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV) by the age of 24. The latest research finds that HPV affects about 7.5 million women nationwide. This is about two-thirds higher than previous estimates. The American Council on Science and Health estimates that “nearly 50 percent of American women can expect to be infected at some point in their lives,” according to Salon.
While the majority of HPV strains are benign, some strains can cause cervical cancer and genital warts. About 2.2 percent of infected women have a strain that is high-risk for cervical cancer, the recent research finds.
Gardasil, which prevents cervical cancer and genital warts caused by HPV types 6, 11, 16, and 18, was approved by the FDA in June 2006 and is now available. Some states, including Texas, are considering mandatory vaccination policies for young girls that have drawn criticism from abstinence-only advocates.