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Disease Markers
Volume 23, Issue 4, Pages 229-234
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2007/136906

HPV Infections in Adolescents

Anna-Barbara Moscicki

Division of Adolescent Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA

Received 20 June 2007; Accepted 20 June 2007

Copyright © 2007 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Adolescents who are sexually active have the highest rates of prevalent and incident HPV infection rates with over 50–80% having infections within 2–3 years of initiating intercourse. These high rates reflect sexual behavior and biologic vulnerability. Most infections are transient in nature and cause no cytologic abnormality. However, a small number of adolescents will not clear the infection. Persistence of HPV is strongly linked to the development of high-grade squamous intra-epithelial lesions (HSIL) and invasive cancer. The HSIL detected, however, does not appear to progress rapidly to invasive cancer. Understanding the natural history of HPV in adolescents has shed light into optional treatment strategies which include watchful observation of atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance (ASCUS) and low grade (LSIL). The association between age of first intercourse and invasive cancer cannot be ignored. Consequently, initiating screening at appropriate times in this vulnerable group is essential. In addition, with the advent of the HPV vaccine, vaccination prior to the onset of sexual activity is critical since most infections occur within a short time frame post initiation.