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HPV in older women may be due to reactivation of virus, not new infection
Date:12/12/2012

ons were detected in women reporting more than one lifetime sexual partner, and 77 percent were detected in women who reported five or more sexual partners in their lifetime.

"Taken together, our data raise the possibility that reactivation risk may increase around age 50 years and contribute to a larger fraction of HPV detection at older ages, compared with new acquisition," the researchers wrote.

According to the authors, an important point this study makes is that women who had their sexual debut during and after the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s have a significantly higher risk of HPV infection compared to women who did so before 1965, likely due to a higher number of sexual partners during their lifetime. "Our historical experience with HPV and cervical neoplasia in postmenopausal women may not be very predictive of the experience of the baby boomer generation of women who are now entering the menopausal transition at a higher risk than their mothers," Dr. Gravitt said.

In an accompanying editorial, Darron R. Brown, MD, and Bree A. Weaver, MD, of the Indiana University School of Medicine, noted that some previous studies demonstrating that HPV "clears" after two years have been based on only one or two negative screenings. Several studies have shown that type-specific HPV can be detected again after a long period of non-detection, although whether this is due to reactivation of a low-level persistent infection or a new infection has not been established. "Further research is needed to help better understand the natural history of HPV infection in older women and to understand the importance of HPV persistence and reactivation in all women," they wrote.

Dr. Gravitt and her team of investigators will continue to follow the women in the study to further confirm their findings. A more nationally representative sample of women would help determine whether the study's findings can be generalized to the larger U.S. popula
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Contact: Jerica Pitts
jpitts@pcipr.com
312-558-1770
Infectious Diseases Society of America
Source:Eurekalert

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