Sexual behaviour and the Human Papilloma Virus: New data
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According to the World Health Organisation, cervical cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women worldwide. More than 90% of all these cancers (some studies talk of 99.8%II) are related with Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection. A recent study published in the Journal of Medical Virology, carried out in Spain with a sample of more than 3200 women, revealed a prevalence of HPV infection much higher than hitherto known from earlier partial studies. Thus, from a prevalence of 3-17% for Spanish risen to 29% in young women (18-25 years old). It appears that these rates are similar to those of other studies conducted in neighbouring countries (Portu- gal, Italy, Germany, Denmark). The percentage of women infected in the 18-25 age group (28.8%) was almost double that of the to- tal number of all the women analysed, aged between 18 and 65 years (14.3%). Moreover, the most commonly found HPV geno- type was HPV 16, which is the main cause of cervical tumours. In the opinion of the study authors, this dramatic increase in virus prevalence rates among the young population stems from changes in sexual habits, and represents earlier onset of sexual relations and increased promiscuity.