A cancer causing strain of the human papillomavirus, or HPV, has infected 25 percent of men and 20 percent of women in the United States, new statistics from the National Center for Health Statistics.
Furthermore, some 45 percent of men have a genital form of the virus.
“Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually-transmitted infection in the United States,” the team at the NCHS, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wrote.
“Some HPV types can cause genital warts and are considered low risk, with a small chance for causing cancer. Other types are considered high risk, causing cancer in different areas of the body including the cervix and vagina in women, penis in men, and anus and oropharynx [mouth and throat] in both men and women.”
The virus has been linked to head and neck cancer as well as cervical cancer.
According to NBC News, doctors think about 70 percent of head and neck cancers are caused by HPV spread through oral sex. They add that by 2020, head and neck cancers will be more common than the cervical cancer caused by the virus.
Roughly four percent of adults are infected with an oral, cancer causing strain of HPV. Men had a higher rate than women.
For people under 25, there is a vaccine that can defend against the cancer causing strains of HPV. Among older adults, the virus continues to be passed around.
According to NBC, the FDA-approved vaccines are Cervarix and Gardasil.
There are 109 known strains of HPV.