HPV infections common among women who’ve only had one partner: study

I wish evevryone knew just how common this really is:

HPV infections common among women who’ve only had one partner: study

1 day ago
TORONTO – When it comes to human papillomavirus infection, it appears
the adage “it only takes one” is right on the mark.
A new study of university students shows that nearly one-third of
women who reported having ever had only one male sexual partner were
infected with an HPV within a year of starting that sexual
Three years into those partnerships, nearly 50 per cent of the women
had been infected at least once, despite the fact they’d still only
had a single sexual partner.
“This paper shows that even just with one partner there’s a high risk
of infection,” lead author Dr. Rachel Winer said from Seattle, where
she teaches at the University of Washington.
“It’s unlike other STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) where . . .
the virus or bacteria is in core (population) groups. HPV is
different in that it’s just very common among everyone who’s having
sex. So even just being exposed to one partner makes you susceptible
to infection.”
The study, which was supported by the U.S. National Institutes of
Allergy and Infectious Diseases, will be published this week in the
Journal of Infectious Diseases.
The findings underscore the wisdom of offering HPV vaccine to girls
before they’ve begun to have sex, said Dr. Monika Naus, director of
the immunization program at the British Columbia Centre for Disease
Control in Vancouver.
“What this confirms is that you shouldn’t wait until you’ve had one
or two partners before you consider HPV vaccine, because there is a
risk even with that first partner,” said Naus, who was not involved
in the study.
She noted that data from British Columbia – drawn from a survey of
adolescents and teens – suggests that by age 12, four per cent of
boys and 3.1 per cent of girls have already had sexual intercourse.
By age 16, the rate rises to 28.3 per cent of males and 33.4 per cent
of females.
The HPV vaccine currently on the Canadian market – Merck Frosst’s
Gardasil – is licensed for use in females aged nine through 26. The
National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends it be given to
girls between ages nine through 13, suggesting at this age most
Canadian girls aren’t yet sexually active.
Four provinces have rolled out publicly funded HPV vaccine programs.
Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island offer the shots to
girls in Grade 6, Nova Scotia to girls in Grade 7 and Ontario to
girls in Grade 8.
In the research, Winer and colleagues were looking at an older group
of subjects – women who waited until they were in university to begin
having sex.
But a previous study in younger British teenagers found strikingly
similar results. The authors of that work followed a group of female
teenagers aged 15 to 19 who had just started their first sexual
relationship. Among those who had still only had one sexual partner
three years later, the HPV infection rate was 46 per cent.
The new research followed 125 women aged 18 to 22 who hadn’t had sex
yet or had had their first intercourse with a single male partner in
the three months prior to the start of the study.
The women were asked to keep Web-based diaries of their sexual
activities and to offer their best guess of how many previous sexual
partners their boyfriend had had. They also had gynecological
examinations every four months.
The researchers stopped collecting data from women in the group if
they reported they had started a sexual relationship with a second
The fact that some women were newly infected two and even three years
into their first sexual relationship could have been due to a
slacking off in condom use, the authors suggested.
Other factors could have been at play as well. The males could have
had sex with someone else, the women could have had other partners
they didn’t report or they could have had sexual contact – stopping
short of intercourse – that allowed transmission to occur.
The rate of infections among women who guessed their boyfriends had
had more than two previous sexual partners was higher than among
women who guessed their partners were less experienced.
“That’s one of the strong findings that came out of this work: That
the more partners the woman’s male partner had had, the greater the
chance that she got infected with the HPV virus,” said Ann Burchell,
a PhD candidate at McGill University whose own work focuses on sexual
transmission of HPV.
Burchell, who wasn’t involved in the research, said it also shows
that those who suggest women can avoid HPV infection by having only
one sexual partner in their lifetime aren’t taking an important
variable into consideration.
“Telling a women just to have one partner in her whole life and be
monogomous is also not necessarily protective,” she said. So even if
a woman waited until marriage and that was the only partner she ever
had, she still may get an HPV infection through that partner.”
The reality of human papillomaviruses is that they are out there,
Burchell said.
“The analogy that I’ve heard about HPV is that it’s the common cold
of the STI (sexually transmitted infections) world. If you leave the
house in the winter you’re probably going to catch a cold at one
point. And HPV is very much like that.”
“If you’re sexually active, you’re quite likely to get it at at least
one point in your life.”


January 21, 2008. Uncategorized.

One Comment

  1. Disease Research - Searching for a Cure » HPV infections common among women who’ve only had one partner: study replied:

    […] infections common among women who’ve only had one partner: study unknown wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptJournal of Infectious Diseases. The […]

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