Comment: Don't panic

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Don't panic

Lifetime prevalence for the virus might be 75-90%, but most of the people who contract it have the infection come and go without ever noticing. The point prevalence (how many people are infected at any given point in time) is much lower. Also, the risk varies with demographic factors, particularly age. Likelihood of HPV infection appears to increase each year until age 24, and decrease therafter.

HPV appears to be a necessary but not sufficient cause of cervical cancer; almost 100% of women who acquire cervical cancer are HPV positive.

However, there are two viruses within the HPV family (HPV-16 and HPV-18) that are responsible for 70% of the observed cases of cervical cancer. Another two (HPV-6 and HPV-11) can cause warts. The point prevalence of any of these potentially more harmful subtypes is about 9%.

But still, most of the people infected with these high-risk types will clear the infection without ever knowing they had it.

Something to keep in mind about this topic is that Merck and co. are looking to make enough people afraid of the HPV monster so that everyone under a certain age has to get vaccinated with Gardasil, regardless of their assessment of the risks and benefits, and regardless of their lifestyle choices.