From Our 2008 Archives

Thwart Genital Warts: Don't Sleep Around

Odds of Getting Genital Warts Increase With Number of Sexual Partners, Study Shows

By Kelley Colihan
WebMD Health News

Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD

April 3, 2008 — Nearly 6% of sexually active people surveyed reported that they have been diagnosed with genital warts, with 25-to-34-year-old women reporting the greatest percentage.

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey looked at 8,849 sexually active men and women aged 18 to 59 from 1999 to 2004.

Ten percent of young women aged 25-34 reported being diagnosed with genital warts (peak for women), compared with 6% of men aged 35-44 (peak for men).

More Sexual Partners, Higher Risk

The more sexual partners a person reported, the greater their chances of having been diagnosed with genital warts.

  • Nearly 2% of people with one to two partners report having been diagnosed.
  • 3% of people with three to five partners report having been diagnosed.
  • 7.2% with six to 10 partners report having been diagnosed.
  • Nearly 11% of people with 10 or more partners report having been diagnosed.

More Diagnoses Among Whites

Whites were more likely to report having been diagnosed with genital warts than African-Americans or Mexican-Americans:

  • Nearly 7% of whites reported having been diagnosed with genital warts
  • 4% of African-Americans reported having been diagnosed
  • 2 1/2% of Mexican-Americans reported having been diagnosed

Uncircumcised Fared Better

Circumcision appeared to have an effect on rates of genital warts:

  • 4 1/2%of circumcised men reported having genital warts
  • 2.4% of uncircumcised men reported having genital warts

Genital Warts: A Common STD

Genital warts, a common sexually transmitted disease in the United States, are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Researchers say more than 90% of genital warts are brought on by two strains of HPV, types 6 and 11.

A vaccine to prevent these two strains of HPV (and two other strains) was approved two years ago for girls and women aged 9 to 26 years old. The CDC recommends that 11- and 12-year-old girls receive the vaccination, which is given in three shots.

The vaccine is also recommended for girls and women aged 13 to 26 who haven't completed vaccination already.

HPV Vaccine Controversy

Some 20 states have drawn up bills requiring that young women get the vaccine (which is sold by the name Gardasil). That has generated controversy, with Texas legislators shooting down the governor's bid to require all 11- and 12-year-old girls to have the vaccine by September 2008.

The CDC says that about half of all sexually active women and men in the U.S. will have a genital HPV infection at some time in their lives. Most HPV infections are cleared by the body.

The survey appears in the April issue of Sexually Transmitted Diseases.

SOURCES: Dihn, T. Sexually Transmitted Diseases, April 2008; vol 35: pp 357-360. News release, American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association. Associated Press. CDC: "Genital HPV Infection-CDC Fact Sheet."

© 2008 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors