How Many U.S. Adults Have Human Papillomavirus (HPV)?

Human papillomavirus (HPV) (Mamiverse)

Human papillomavirus (HPV) (Mamiverse)

In answer to the headline, quite a few. In fact, the number might be higher than you think.

The answer: Almost 50% of U.S. adults have human papillomavirus (HPV).

In case you’re blissfully unaware, HPV is “the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI).” The virus is most commonly transmitted during vaginal and anal sex. In worst cases, HPV can morph into genital warts and cause cancer.

A report published by the National Center for Health Statistics revealed that 42%+ of U.S. adults ages 18-59 had genital HPV. Certain strains of the virus affected 25%+ of adult men and 20%+ of adult women. These strains caused 31K cases of cancer per year.

The report also found that 7%+ of U.S. adults had oral HPV, and 4% had HPV strains associated with mouth and throat cancers.

Rates of HPV broke down along demographic lines:

The highest rate, 33.7 percent, was found among non-Hispanic blacks; the lowest, 11.9 percent, among Asians. The prevalence of genital HPV infection was 21.6 percent among whites and 21.7 percent among Hispanics.

The study was the first of its kind to examine HPV in adults.

This study really drives home the need for HPV vaccination. Yet despite a push for getting adolescents vaccinated, the HPV vaccination rate remains stubbornly low: “Only 30-40% of teens who should be getting immunized receive the three-dose shot, and only 10% of men do.”

Gonorrhea Will Become Untreatable Soon

Cosmo Kramer, 'Seinfeld' (Pinterest)

Cosmo Kramer, ‘Seinfeld’ (Pinterest)

Here’s some downer news to start your day: Sexually-transmitted disease (STD) gonorrhea has become resistant to certain antibiotics.

Earlier this month, the World Health Organization (WHO) released new treatment guidelines for the STD. Gonorrhea isn’t the only STD that’s become drug-resistant; strains of chlamydia and syphilis have also begun resisting treatment.

The common STD most affects women ages 20-24, with 820K new cases throughout all demographics cropping up per year. Worldwide, 78M people contract gonorrhea each year.

Gonorrhea is becoming drug-resistant at the same time that STD rates are rising. In 2014, the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) reported that rates of gonorrhea rose 5%+, which was the first increase in the U.S. in eight years.

The STD now cannot be treated with penicillin and doxycycline, among other drugs. The WHO estimates that completely new drugs will be needed for treatment within the next five years.

The HPV Vaccine is the Most Underused Immunization for Children

HPV Vaccine (Fearless Parent)

HPV Vaccine (Fearless Parent)

Once they’re born, children receive a range of vaccinations against seemingly every possible disease. But one vaccination has been severely under-used: the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.

According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), HPV is the “most common sexually transmitted infection (STI).” The virus affects 14M+ people every year, and will affect almost everyone who is sexually active at some point in their lives. HPV causes 90% of cervical cancers, and other cancers associated with orifices used during sexual activity (think vagina, anus, etc.).

A 2014 study done by researchers at Harvard Medical School and the University of North Carolina (UNC) showed that a “sizable minority” of doctors recommended the vaccine “inconsistently, behind schedule or without urgency.”

Here’s what that translates to numerically:

As of 2014, only 40 percent of girls and 21 percent of boys ages 13 to 17 had received all three doses of the HPV vaccine, whereas 88 percent of boys and girls had been vaccinated against tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis and 79 percent had gotten the meningococcal vaccine.

But why aren’t children getting this vaccination? One reason is that doctors may be reluctant to talk about sexual activity with children, even if it’s future sexual activity. The vaccination does not rank high on the list of children’s immunizations, and isn’t required in many states. There also has not been a public health scare to drive home the importance of this immunization to parents.

The virus was only approved in 2006, and can be cost-prohibitive: the three-shot series can run up to $1K.

Children, both girls and boys, should receive the vaccination around ages 11-12. Boys can get catch-up vaccines until they’re 21, and girls can do the same until they’re 26. But the vaccine has proven less effective when given during the later years.

El Salvadorian Government Advises Women Not Get Pregnant Due to Zika Virus

Baby with microcephaly (Health Then More)

Baby with microcephaly (Health Then More)

Despite arriving on the viral diseases scene just recently, the Zika virus has already made a large impact. The first cases in the Americas were reported in Brazil last spring, where the virus was linked to birth defects that affected brain development. The most commonly cited birth defect was microcephaly, which results in an abnormally small brain. Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) here in the U.S. have advised that pregnant women should not travel to the 14 countries affected by the virus.

Now, the government of El Salvador (one of the affected countries) is going one step further and advising women of childbearing age to refrain from getting pregnant until 2018. The announcement came after 5K+ cases of the virus were detected in women in 2015 and early this year. Of this number, it’s suspected that 96 women had contracted the virus, but so far, none have resulted in microcephaly. I couldn’t find information on how high-risk El Salvador is for the Zika virus, but this measure would lead me to believe that it looks pretty dire.

The government of Colombia has released a similar warning, but is advising women to wait six to eight months. Colombia has the second-highest rate of Zika infections after Brazil.

In terms of each country’s birth rates (counted as births per 1K people), El Salvador has 16.79. It just edges past Colombia with a birth rate of 16.73. By contrast, Brazil has a birth rate of 14.72. It’ll be interesting to see how El Salvador and Colombia’s birth rates are affected this year by their respective government’s measures.

The Zika virus is transmitted via mosquito, and is characterized by joint pain, fever, rash and red eyes.









Zika Virus Linked to Birth Defects

Mosquito (NPR)

Mosquito (NPR)

Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) released a travel warning for pregnant women. They’ve issued the warning for 14 countries where the Zika virus has been confirmed to be transmitted.

Transmitted through bites of infected mosquitos, the Zika virus symptoms include fever, rashes and red eyes. It’s also been linked to birth defects.

Brazil was the first country to report birth defects linked to Zika. Specifically, the virus manifests as microcephaly, where newborns will have an unusually small head that leads to abnormal brain development. Over 2.4K cases of newborns affected by Zika were recorded in 2015, up from only 147 cases in 2014. This was a 1,532%+ year-over-year increase.

And the U.S. is no longer exempt from Zika’s reach: A baby with microcephaly was confirmed to have the virus. The baby was born in Hawaii last week.


Sex & The ’60s: How Many Live Births Occurred During the Decade?

'Mad Men' season 3 still (LA Times Blogs)

‘Mad Men’ season 3 still (LA Times Blogs)

This week, we’re examining sexuality data from the 1960s, in celebration of the upcoming final half-season of “Mad Men” beginning Apr. 5th.

On “Mad Men,” two significant female characters, Don’s wife Betty Draper (January Jones) and his subordinate Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss), gave birth to sons. (Oops, spoiler alert?) While each character made different decisions regarding their progeny, it became a pivotal moment for both of them.

Tracking the number of live births within a population is an essential checkpoint to determine how healthily a population is growing. We’ve already looked at population and marriage stats from the 1960s; now let’s look at birth stats from the decade.

I found a table put together by the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) cataloging registered live births from 1933 to 1998, breaking down the data by the age and race of the mother. For our purposes, we’ll look at age only and narrow it down to mothers ages 15-49.

Here’s the data table:

1960s Live Births by Mother's Age and Year Data Table

1960s Live Births by Mother’s Age and Year Data Table

But the patterns are a little hard to see. So I made a line graph:

1960s Registered Live Births by Mother's Age and Year Line Graph

1960s Registered Live Births by Mother’s Age and Year Line Graph

Now we can begin to see some patterns.

It appears that 1964 was a tipping-point year, as some of the age-ranges pivoted from their determined patterns at that year. The number of mothers ages 20-24, the largest group in the series, dropped below 1.4M+ that year, and settled around 1.3M+-1.5M+ for the remainder of the decade. Likewise, the number of live registered births for the 25-29 cohort hit 1M+ that year for the last time that decade. For the rest of the 1960s, births for women ages 25-29 stayed within the six-figure range.

Previous to 1964, women ages 30-34 numbered around 600K+ live births. But 1964 began a drop into the 500K+ range for a couple of years, before ending the decade within the 400K+ range.

Women ages 15-19 (well, teens) stayed within the same range of births throughout the decade (585K+ to 605K+, with an outlier of 621K+ in 1966). But the line graph above makes it appear as if the cohort had a more dramatic rise, but that’s because it’s set off by the 30-34 range’s changes.

In terms of the “Mad Men” characters, Peggy Olson would’ve been 21 years old, and would’ve given birth around 1960. That places her in the largest age cohort of that year. (Ages 20-24 outstripped the next-highest range, ages 25-29, by 334K+ births.) Betty Draper was around 31 years old in 1963 when she gave birth. So she was within the largest of the age ranges that year which didn’t hit 1M+ live births, but still on the downswing of common pregnancies. (Women ages 30-34 registered 610K+ live births).

It seems that showrunner Matthew Weiner’s obsessiveness towards period accuracy extended even to birth ages of his female characters.


How Many Male Newborns Get Circumcised?

Baby boy (

Baby boy (

A recent NPR article reveals that the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) is considering educating men on the health benefits of circumcision. This wouldn’t be limited to newborn babies, but open to men of all ages.

But how many men are circumcised at birth?

Last year, the CDC  released a report analyzing male newborn circumcision long-term trends from 1979 to 2010. The numbers were found using the National Hospital Discharge Survey (NHDS), and examined national and regional circumcision rates. The study didn’t count any circumcisions performed outside the hospital or on older males.

The study found some interesting things: During the time of the long-range study, circumcision rates declined around 10% to land at 58%+ in 2010. Circumcision rates declined in the 1980s, rose until 1998, and then began declining again.


National long-term circumcision rates (Via

The report also tracked how circumcision rates broke down by region. Circumcision in the Midwest mirrored the national trend, while the South saw increasing rates until 1998 (contrary to the national pattern), and then declining rates. The West had a steady decreasing rate throughout the study’s duration.

US Regional Circumcision Rates (via

US Regional Circumcision Rates (via

It’s interesting that rates have declined within the past decade-and-a-half.