More than Half of Young Couples Infected with HPV

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Journalist

A groundbreaking new study has found that 56 percent of young adults in new sexual relationships are infected with human papillomavirus (HPV). Of those couples, nearly half were infected with cancer-causing types of the virus. is reporting that a new study led by Professor Eduardo Franco, Director of McGill University’s Cancer Epidemiology Unit, in collaboration with a team of colleagues from McGill and Universit de Montral/Centre Hospitalier de l’Universit de Montral, found that if one partner was infected with HPV, the other partner’s chance of also being infected with the same HPV type increased over 50 times.

This was the first study ever conducted for the purpose of measuring the prevalence of HPV among recently formed couples, a time when transmission of the virus is the most likely to occur.

“These results build on our knowledge that HPV infection is very common among young adults, and underline the importance of prevention programs for HPV-associated diseases such as cervical cancer screening and HPV vaccination,” said Dr. Ann Burchell, the Project Coordinator. “Our results also suggest that HPV is an easy virus to get and to transmit.”

Dr. Burchell said their estimates of the HPV transmission probability would be of use to other scientists involved in public health projects and HPV vaccination strategies.

The only available vaccine for cervical cancer, Gardasil, has been embroiled in controversy since its introduction by Merck & Co. in 2006. Not only has caused nearly 50 deaths and thousands of adverse event reports, but one of its lead researchers recently said it would do little to decrease cervical cancer rates and that its risks outweighed its benefits.

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