Bethany A. Weaver. Epidemiology and Natural History of Genital Human Papillomavirus Infection. J Am Osteopath Assoc 2006;106(suppl_1):S2–S8. doi: .
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Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a ubiquitous human pathogen that causes cervical and other anogenital cancers as well as genital warts and recurrent respiratory papillomatosis. Human papillomavirus infection is most common among young, sexually active individuals, and it is so prevalent that approximately 75% to 80% of sexually active individuals will become infected in their lifetime. Currently, options are limited for both prevention of infection of patients with HPV-associated disease: infection can only be prevented with complete abstinence from all forms of sexual activity because condoms do not offer complete protection from HPV and HPV can be transmitted by nonintromissive sexual activities. Treatment of patients with HPV-associated disease such as cervical intraepithelial neoplasia and genital warts consists of counseling, treatment if indicated, and monitoring for recurrence. Soon, however, prevention of these HPV-related diseases may be available in the form of a prophylactic HPV vaccine. Phase 3 studies of a quadrivalent vaccine that protects against both high- and low-risk types of HPV demonstrated the vaccine to be 100% effective in preventing HPV type 16– and type 18–associated cervical disease, suggesting that these vaccines, if made widely available, will dramatically reduce the burden of HPV-related disease.
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