HPV or, human papillomavirus, is a sexually transmitted virus. There are many different strains of HPV. Some types of HPV cause genital warts while other types can cause changes to occur in the cells of a woman’s cervix that may result in cancer.
Most sexually active women are likely to acquire HPV through sexual contact during those years immediately following their first sexual encounters. Most women will never be aware of the infection, since most infections do not result in symptoms.
HPV can be transmitted by genital contact, regardless of whether sexual intercourse has taken place or a condom has been used.
In the United States, approximately 20 million people are infected with HPV, and about 80 percent of females will have acquired HPV by age 50. About 6.2 million Americans get a new genital HPV infection each year.
The majority of HPV infections clear within one-to-two years. Infections caused by certain types of HPV can persist and can lead to cervical cancer in rare cases.
It is estimated that in 2007, there will be approximately 11,150 new cases of cervical cancer and 3,700 deaths resulting from cervical cancer in the United States.
Cervical cancer screening, and follow up and treatment of HPV-related disease, costs about $5 billion per year in the U.S.