A new study published in the British Medical Journal Open has found that more than one in 50 people in England are carrying the carcinogenic causing agent, ‘human papilloma virus’ (HPV) in their throats.
The study, which is the largest ever to have analyzed the spread of the infection, reveals that approximately 2.2 percent of those tested as part of the research was discovered to have the virus dormant in their system.
The latest study sampled 700 men and woman who were tested for the HPV virus. At the same time, the subjects were asked probing questions about their lifestyle choices, including about their sexual history, in an effort to draw a connection between such habits and the likelihood of contracting the infection.
Studies carried out in other parts of the world, such as the United States, concluded that the percentage of people infected could be as a high as one in 25 people.
The study’s publication comes on the heels of an announcement by the UK government in July that a new vaccine programme will be introduced to counter HPV for schoolboys aged 12 to 13, while girls already receive the vaccine.
One of the study’s lead researchers, Dr Vanessa Hearnden of the University of Sheffield in the UK, has been quoted as saying that: “We fully support the newly announced vaccination programme for boys, which will reduce the risk of HPV-related cancers, including throat cancer in men, and will provide further prevention of cervical cancers. However, we found the majority of individuals testing positive for high-risk strains of HPV were actually positive for strains other than those covered by the current vaccine. This shows the need to consider newer vaccines which protect against more HPV strains in the future, and for individuals to be aware of lifestyle risk factors such as the number of sexual partners and tobacco use.”