Health officials say nearly half of US adults have caught HPV, a sexually-transmitted bug that can cause cervical cancer and genital warts, the AP reports. Some 42.5% of Americans ages 18 to 59 had some form of genital human papillomavirus, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released Thursday that is believed to be the most complete look ever taken at how common HPV is among adults. More concerning, about 25% of men and 20% of women had certain strains of HPV that carry a higher risk of cancer, according to the report, which backs up earlier findings on HPV prevalence in the US.
The figures for oral HPV were a lot lower: Some 7.3% of US adults—11.5% of men and 3.3% of women ages 18 to 69—have oral HPV of some kind, and 4% of adults have the high-risk kind, according to the CDC report. There are more than 150 HPV viruses—and in most cases, HPV goes away on its own. The CDC has said most sexually active people will get HPV. Vaccinations against HPV first became available in 2006, aimed at protecting kids before they become sexually active. (A study released earlier this year found that the HPV vaccine could also help protect against certain kinds of skin cancer.)