Joplin, MO- The numbers might surprise you. Freeman OB/GYN Angela Langer said, "The prevalence across the world is about 20%. In the U.S., 70-80% of adults - so men and women - will contract the virus or be exposed before they're age 50."
Dr. Langer says the human papilloma virus, or HPV, goes through several stages. "It's carried in both men and women and it's usually - you can think of it as a cold virus, it's transient, it comes and goes. And almost always the virus clears within 3 years of getting the virus - definitely more common in younger age men and women."
Langer says that normally, your immune system will eliminate HPV - unless the risk factors grow. HPV is a precursor to cervical cancer, so those risks grow as well. "When it's a problem when you're infected repeatedly - the more sexual partners you have or if you have an immune system that's not very good, you will keep the virus longer. The longer you have the virus, the more times you're infected, then the higher risk of developing a cervix cancer or precancerous lesion."
The HPV vaccine is recommended for female patients ages 13 - 2