Vaccine for HPV infection fights cervical cancer risk

About 20 million sexually active people in the U.S. are infected with the HPV (human papillomavirus). Symptoms may include genital warts–or no visible symptoms at all. Most will clear the infection on their own (in women, usually within 2 years), but 1/3 of the virus types can lead to cervical cancer.

If you know any young woman who’s been frightened when a pap test revealed precancerous cells, you’ll be glad to hear about this new HPV vaccine which experiments indicate can protect against cervical cancer for up to almost 5 years after the dose.

The killer is that men develop and carry this infection without symptoms. No tests have been developed for them because it doesn’t seem to affect them long term. Estimates are that 80% of women will have acquired genital HPV by the age of 50. Ladies, if you thought getting a pap test was a waste, think again. If you’re sexually active, please schedule one regularly.