We’ve all heard the crazy-scary stats: If you’re a sexually active single, you will probably become infected with HPV, the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S. Now a new study presented at this month’s American Society for Microbiology meeting shows that HPV may be even more pervasive.
NYU Langone Medical Center researchers found that 69 percent of healthy American adults are infected with at least one strain of human papillomavirus.
Why are we just now finding this out? The test that detects HPV is geared toward cervical cancer prevention, which means it primarily looks for strains specifically linked to the disease, says study author Zhiheng Pei, M.D., Ph.D.
“There are more than 170 HPV types,” he says. “About 10 percent are responsible for cervical cancer.” These strains are referred to as “high-risk” HPV and are the ones that current medical tests focus on.