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Condoms Protect Well Against HPV

It is well known that condoms are effective contraceptive as well preventive agents against the transmission of many sexually transmitted infections (STI's). Most recently, a study in the June 22, 2006 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine found that using a condom consistently offers women very effective protection against human papillomavirus (HPV), the sexually-transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer. The authors concluded that women whose male partners always used a condom were 70% less at risk of contracting HPV than those who used them less than 5% of the time.

Investigators from the HPV Research Group, University of Washington, Seattle, tracked 82 students, ages 18 to 22 years, over three years from their first sexual relation. Cervical and vulvovaginal samples for human papillomavirus DNA testing and Papanicolaou testing were collected at gynecologic examinations every four months, while the women used electronic diaries to record information about their daily sexual behavior.

There are several types of HPV that can cause genital warts and lead to cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, anus or penis. About 80 percent of young women -- 630 million worldwide -- are infected within five years after becoming sexual active.

In other related HPV prevention news, the US Food and Drug Administration recently approved (June 2006) Guardasil, the first vaccine against four types of HPV responsible for 70 percent of cervical cancer. "This study shows that consistent condom use is an important preventive strategy against HPV," says Dr. Donnica Moore, President of Sapphire Women's Health Group and www.DrDonnica.com. "Even girls and women who do get the HPV vaccine before becoming sexually active will not be completely protected against all known cancer-causing strains of HPV. This is why it is also important for all women to have regular cervical screening with Pap smears and the HPV test as indicated, whether or not they have had the vaccine and whether or not they use condoms religiously."

For more information about HPV, click here.

Created: 7/28/2006  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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