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Condoms protect
against HPV

Condoms protect
against HPV

Experts have long believed it, and now there's hard evidence to support it: Condoms dramatically reduce the risk of transmitting a virus that causes genital warts and most cases of cervical cancer. Results of an 82-person study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that women who said their male partners always used condoms were 70% less likely to develop a human papillomavirus infection than women whose partners used them less than 5% of the time. Although the study focused on heterosexual women, many researchers believe condom use also may reduce the risk of HPV transmissions between gay men through anal sex. HPV can cause anal and genital warts in gay men and has been linked to a higher risk of rectal cancer. The study is the most comprehensive to date and important because several previous studies had suggested that condoms do little to protect against the virus, which is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. "Even women whose partners used condoms more than half the time had a 50% risk reduction, as compared with those whose partners used condoms less than 5% of the time," said the researchers, who were led by Rachel Winer at the University of Washington. The researchers tracked the health and sexual activity--with or without condom use--of 82 University of Washington women who kept Internet-based diaries and underwent a gynecological examination every four months. Patients were followed for one year. Earlier this month, U.S. regulators approved the first vaccine, Gardisil, to block the four types of HPV that are believed to be responsible for more than 70% percent of cervical cancer and 90% of genital warts. The vaccine is made by Merck. HPV infects about half of sexually active adults sometime during their life, but it is usually harmless. Sometimes, however, it can cause abnormal cells in the cervix lining that can become cancerous. About 4,000 women in the United States and 300,0000 worldwide die from cervical cancer each year. (Reuters, with additional reporting by The Advocate)

Advocate Magazine - KehlaniAdvocate Magazine - Gus Kenworthy

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