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Home HPV Research HPV Research Study: Most HPV Infections Resolve Quickly in Young Women

Study: Most HPV Infections Resolve Quickly in Young Women

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A study by researchers at the University of Washington finds most HPV infections in young women resolve naturally within 24 months.

Between 2000 and 2007, Rachel Winer, PhD, and colleagues followed female college students between ages 18-22 years. Subjects were given HPV and Pap tests three times a year so the investigators could examine and chart HPV infections over the course of the study. The authors say understanding short-term, incident HPV infection in young woman might give insight into transmission of the virus.

It was common for subjects in this study to have more than one type of HPV detected, as over 300 different HPV infections were found in 85 women. Also, 60% of cervical lesions found among study participants contained more than one type of HPV.

90% of the infections were undetectable on HPV DNA tests in two years or less (median time to clearance was about 9 months). Approximately 1 in 5 infections were detected again within 12 months, however. Incident HPV infections of the cervix were more likely to have short-term duration compared to infection of the vulva and vagina (either alone or with cervical infection).

Rachel L. Winer, James P. Hughes, Qinghua Feng, Long Fu Xi,Stephen Cherne, Sandra O'Reilly, Nancy B. Kiviat, and Laura A. Koutsky. Early Natural History of Incident, Type-Specific Human Papillomavirus Infections in Newly Sexually Active Young Women. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention, 2011. 20(4):699-707.