Genital human papillomavirus is the most common sexually transmitted infection. There are more than forty types of HPV that can infect the genital areas of males and females. Most people who become infected with HPV are unaware that they have it, because the virus often has no signs or symptoms. This means you can get the virus or pass it on to your partner without knowing it. HPV will affect an estimated seventy-five to eighty percent of people, male and female, in their lifetime. For most people, HPV clears on its own, but for others who don’t clear certain types of the virus, HPV could cause significant consequences. These include vulvar, cervical, and vaginal cancers in females. Other types could possibly cause genital warts in both females and males. Further, there is no way to predict who will or who will not clear the virus. HPV transmission can happen with any kind of genital contact with someone who has HPV. This means that intercourse is not necessary to contract HPV.
The severity of the issue of human papillomavirus is very significant. The Center for Disease Control gives very alarming facts and statistics about the human papilloma virus as follows: There are about six million new cases of genital Human papillomavirus in the United States each year. It’s estimated that seventy-four percent of these cases occur in fifteen to twenty-four year olds. Regarding HPV, there are four types of the virus that one should take note of. This is because they cause the most cases of HPV-related diseases in males and females. Each day in the United States, thirty women are diagnosed with cervical cancer. This number averages out to about eleven thousand women a year. Further, it is estimated that each minute there is a new case of genital warts in men and women. HPV types 6 and 11 cause about ninety percent of genital warts cases in females and males. HPV types 16 and 18 cause about seventy-five percent of cervical cancer cases in females. HPV Types 16 and 18 also cause about seventy percent of vaginal cancer cases and up to fifty percent of vulvar cancer cases in females. All HPV types that affect the genital area can cause abnormal pap tests in females. Also, the human papillomavirus is the second most common cause of cancer-related mortalities in women and has been detected in 99.7% of cervical cancer cases (Caron, Kispert & McGrath, 2012).
Despite widespread information about the human papillomavirus vaccine, uptake continues to be low (CDC, 2010). In a study of 321 college students only one third had ever heard of HPV, only seventeen percent correctly indicated that HPV was sexually transmitted, and only two percent identified HPV infection as a risk factor for cervical cancer. Similar results have been found among adolescent and adult populations (Dempsey, 2006).