Print this page    •   Back to Web version of article

Medical News
Casual Sex, Serious Health Consequences

March 11, 2004

CDC says human papillomavirus (HPV) is "likely the most common STD among young, sexually active people," affecting 20 million in the United States at any one time. According to CDC, every year about 5.5 million people contract an HPV infection.

HPV is a major health concern for sexually active women in their 20s and 30s. "HPV is the epidemic right now," said Dr. Margaret Polaneczky, an obstetrician-gynecologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan. Polaneczky and other doctors said they are seeing more young women having more and more sexual partners over time. Such behavior increases the risk of contracting viruses such as HPV, herpes and HIV.

Of the 30 strains of HPV, a few types can lead to cervical cancer. The virus is undetectable in about 90 percent of women after two years, but studies have found that in some women, HPV strains that lead to cervical cancer can persist. Constant reinfection from multiple partners greatly increases that risk.

Herpes is another major health concern. CDC says about 45 million Americans have genital herpes, which produces genital blisters that usually disappear within two to three weeks. The herpes simplex virus remains in the body for life and sores may recur. Dr. Judith Morris de Celis of New York University Medical Center in Manhattan said that both HPV and herpes could be transmitted via the scrotum, which is not covered by a condom.

In 2002, according to CDC, more than 56,000 US women had HIV/AIDS, which they had acquired through heterosexual sex. Aside from abstinence, doctors said that condoms remain the best way to reduce transmission of STDs and they suggested women have frank conversations with their doctors and their sexual partners.

Back to other news for March 11, 2004

Excerpted from:
Los Angeles Times
03.08.04; Ridgely Ochs

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. You can find this article online by typing this address into your Web browser:

General Disclaimer: is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services. The information provided through should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, consult your health care provider.