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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Minnesota: Study Rules out High HPV Infection Rate as Driver for Increased Cervical Cancer Deaths in Immigrants

More than 43 million immigrants live in the United States and are a population that experiences disparities related to human papillomavirus (HPV). One of the most concerning disparities is an unusually high death rate among women from cervical cancer, which is known to be caused by HPV infection. A new study from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health measured HPV infection rates among men and women across the country and found that, despite the higher cancer death rates, foreign-born people actually have lower rates of HPV infection than those born in the U.S. 

“These results suggest that the higher cervical cancer rates among immigrant women are not due to higher prevalence of HPV infection or high risk HPV infection,” said Ms. Manami Bhattacharya, study lead author and cancer disparities pre-doctoral fellow.

The study, which was co-authored by associate professor Dr. Annie-Laurie McRee from the Medical School, was recently published in the journal Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics.

“While the prevalence of HPV infection in the U.S. are lower for foreign-born people, they’re not low,” said Ms. Bhattacharya. “Nearly 1-in-3 women have HPV, which means there is a large population needing interventions to stop the development of cancer.”

Previous studies have shown that immigrant populations have increased barriers to health care and screening, which could be contributing to their increased cervical cancer death rates. In response, Ms. Bhattacharya suggests that interventions focus on improving access to health care providers, vaccination and screening among immigrant populations in order to prevent or provide early detection of HPV infection and cancer.

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