In a shocking new study, it was proven that the overall genital HPV infection prevalence was 45.2 percent among 1,868 participants.

The patients were selected from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of 2013-2014, who provided penile swabs for HPV testing. The study was intended to prove that HPV vaccination programs are not being taken advantage of, even when human papillomavirus is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States.

Physician, Patient
Relatively speaking, the HPV vaccine was just recently approved, being implemented on a nationwide basis in 2011, but the measure was taken while the incidence of HPV appears to be dramatically increasing. Image credit: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Anyone can be infected

The 1,868 participants were aged 18 to 59 and infection prevalence was measured depending on how old was the patient. The lowest incidence of HPV was 28.9 percent for men aged 18 to 22, although the rate increased steadily with age, reaching 46.5 percent for males aged 23 to 27 and it stayed relatively high as patients were older.

HPV is considered one of the most notable causes contributing to cancer, seeing that 91 percent of every anal cancer is due to human papillomavirus infection. HPV is also responsible for 63 percent of every penile cancer in the U.S. and 72 percent of all oropharyngeal cancers, which is characterized by malignant cells in the middle part of the throat, including tonsils, tongue, and soft palate.

To highlight the data that would reveal the enormous incidence rates behind HPV, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey sampled populations of different ethnicities, including Hispanics, blacks, Asians, and others.

From the 1,868 patients providing information to NHANES, researchers were able to determine the most common types of HPV, including the ones classified as high-risk subtypes which commonly evolved into some form of cancer.

Besides 45.2 percent of males interviewed displayed a high prevalence of HPV infection, the high-risk HPV prevalence stood at 25.1 percent. The dominating type of high-risk HPV was the one known as 51, while the prevalence of at least 1 of the most common strains of the virus was 8.5 percent, which statistically equals to 6.5 million men in the United States.

How many people have HPV in the U.S?

Researchers assure that at least 79 million people in the U.S. are infected with HPV, where 9,000 new male cases occur each year.

Apparently, the most significant factors that could be linked to genital HPV infection were smoking status, annual household income, and circumcision. The population that had a higher rate of infection was that of non-Hispanic black men, where 65 percent of the participants of said ethnicity were infected with HPV.

Men in older age groups were approximately twice as likely to have genital HPV infection compared with those aged 18 to 22 years. This increased risk was apparent in those aged 23 to 32 years only when the analysis was limited to the 14 high-risk HPV subtypes. Compared with those with less than a high school education, those with a high school diploma or general equivalency diploma were approximately 40 percent more likely to have these infections in the high-risk group. Compared with married men, men who reported never having been married, living with a partner, or being widowed, divorced, or separated from a spouse were twice as likely to have genital HPV infections,” reads the study.

The incidence of HPV in males appeared to be contrasting to that of females, where most men that are infected with the disease are older than 22, while women displayed the higher rates in groups younger than 20 years.

The peak ages for HPV infection in men appear to be between 28 and 32 years and at the age of 58. The study also appears to correspond with previous research efforts in Denmark, which also reported a 41.8 percent prevalence of HPV infection, most being of the 51 subtype.

In essence: Get an HPV shot

Not all kinds of HPV infection cause cancer, although over 100 different varieties of the virus are known to exist. Warts and lesions caused by HPV can occur in different parts of the body, including feet, face, genitals, and the neck.

Mayo Clinic assures that the body is usually capable of defeating the HPV infection before it has a chance of producing symptoms. But if it fails, warts can appear, which are characterized by a cauliflower-like texture. In men, these warts can appear on the penis, the anus, and the scrotum. For women, they usually appear on the vulva, but may also appear on the anus or inside the vagina.

Man, shot, vaccine.
The most common way of prevention is being vaccinated, which usually protects the patient against cervical cancer. Image credit: Sostre SN News.

Usually, the cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV subtypes that don’t even cause warts, allowing the infection to pass unnoticed. The CDC recommends that an HPV test every three years should be enough to rule out the risk of infection.

Source: JAMA Oncology