A study published in the November 14 edition of The Journal of Infectious Diseases shows that nearly 20% of U.S. women ages 12 to 59 are infected with human papillomavirus type 16, the strain of HPV linked with more than half of all cervical cancers, Reuters Health reports. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed blood samples from 9,629 men and women ages 12 to 59. Approximately 18% of the women's samples tested positive for HPV-16 antibodies. African-American women were shown to have the highest incidence of HPV-16 infection, and women in their 20s were more likely to be infected than women in their 50s.
"These findings document the high levels of HPV-16 infection in the United States, especially in women," the researchers said. "Our findings have important public health implications for the development of cervical cancer prevention and control strategies." The actual HPV-16 infection rate could be considerably higher because many women never develop antibodies to the virus, they added.