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HPV Infection Facts

  • HPV is the most common sexually-transmitted infection in the U.S.
  • Most HPV infections cause no symptoms and more than half of all sexually active persons become infected at some point in their lives.
  • There are more than 100 HPV types and 30-40 can be sexually transmitted, with 15 HPV types associated with cervical cancer.
  • The majority of women clear the HPV virus from their bodies naturally but women with risk factors, such as HIV infection, smoking, long-time use of oral contraceptives, and co-infection with herpes simplex virus or chlamydia, are at higher risk for chronic HPV infection.
  • Chronic HPV infection is associated with precancerous changes in the cervix which can progress to cervical cancer if left undiagnosed and untreated.
  • Between 1955 and 1992, cervical cancer deaths in American women dropped by 74 percent due to routine pap smears.
  • Chronic HPV infections are also associated with other genital cancers, such as anal cancer.
  • There are about 9,800 new cases of cervical cancer annually diagnosed in the U.S., which represents .71 percent out of the approximately 1,372,000 new cancer cases of all types diagnosed.
  • In the U.S., cervical cancer is the 14th most common type of cancer in women but in South America, Africa and Asia, cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women because of poor health care and no pap screening.
  • There are about 3,700 deaths in mostly older American women annually attributed to HPV-related cervical cancer, which is about .65 percent of the approximately 570,000 cancer deaths that occur in the U.S.
  • Most cervical pre-cancers develop slowly, so nearly all cervical cancers can be prevented with regular pap smear screening and prompt treatment.
  • Survival for women with pre-invasive cervical cancer lesions is nearly 100% with early diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

1. Food and Drug Administration. Product Approval Information - Licensing Action: GARDASIL Questions and Answers. 

2. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2005.

3. Saslow D, Runowicz CD et al. American Cancer Society Guideline for the Early Detection of Cervical Neoplasia and Cancer. CA Cancer J Clin 2002; 52:342-362

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