March 11, 2004
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.