This post has been updated.
During a recent two-year period, almost 23 percent of U.S. adults ages 18 to 59 had a type of genital human papillomavirus (HPV) that put them at high risk of certain cancers, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report published Thursday.
That percentage jumped to more than 42 percent during 2013 to 2014 if any type of genital HPV was included, the CDC found. In both groups, prevalence was higher in men than in women, and it was sharply higher among blacks compared to other racial and ethnic groups.
“We tend to overlook the fact that 20 percent of us are carrying the virus that can cause cancer,” said Geraldine McQuillan, lead author of the report and a senior infectious disease epidemiologist in the Division of Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. “People really need to realize that this is a serious concern.”
This is the first data CDC has compiled on HPV rates among men. Its previous research among teen girls and women looked at far fewer strains of the virus and included a younger, narrower age range — and, perhaps because of that, found much lower prevalence of high-risk HPV.
“What we know is that cervical cancer rates have remained relatively stable, but that being said, HPV-related cancer rates have been increasing,” said Lois Ramondetta, a professor of gynecologic oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.