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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Michigan: Study Indicates HPV Rates Increasing for Women Under 40, Putting Them at Higher Risk of Related Cancers

Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection rates are increasing in women born after 1980 who did not receive the HPV vaccine — putting them at higher risk for HPV-related cancers, according to a University of Michigan study.

While more than 90 percent of HPV-related cancers are preventable, HPV causes more than 40,000 cases of cancer in the U.S. each year, including cervical, oropharyngeal, anal and other genital cancers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that at least half of all sexually active men and women will acquire HPV in their lifetime.

“If we know which groups of people have the highest rates of HPV, we can do a better job of preventing cancer through vaccination and screening,” said lead author Dr. Andrew Brouwer, a researcher at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

Because testing for genital HPV started in 2003 for women and and in 2013 for men, there are no direct measurements of how HPV incidence and prevalence have changed over the past decades — before the vaccine became available for women in 2006 and for men in 2009.

For their analysis, Dr. Brouwer and his colleagues developed a model that uses both HPV infection and past infection data, as well as mathematical representations of the underlying mechanisms of infection, recovery and the generation of antibodies, to paint a better picture of HPV prevalence in the present and past.

Their model indicates that while there may be a substantial increase in HPV prevalence in more recent birth cohorts, HPV vaccination may ultimately control adverse HPV-related outcomes, including genital warts and cancer.

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