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Science / Medicine : Sexual Virus Widespread

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

A sexually transmitted virus that causes genital warts and is suspected of increasing the risk of cervical cancer appears more widespread than previously thought, researchers reported last week.

A study of 467 women who went to UC Berkeley’s health clinic for routine gynecological exams found 46% of the women were infected with the the human papilloma virus, or HPV. “It is clear from our results that HPV infection is common in the healthy women we studied, who are likely to represent other young, sexually active women,” the researchers wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Assn.

“The implications are that this sexually transmitted agent is more common than previously thought, and it emphasizes the importance of safer sex techniques,” said Michele Manos, who led the study.

The findings also indicate that standard tests for detecting the virus may be inadequate, the researchers said. Only 11% of the women tested positive on standard tests.

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