HPV Infections Harder to Treat in College-age African American Women

The human papillomavirus (HPV), a virus from the papillomavirus family that can potentially cause cancer, is harder to treat in college-aged African American women, according to a study by The American Association for Cancer Research.

The study findings say African American women are also likely to have an abnormal Pap test than European-American women.

“African-American women are 40 percent more likely to get cervical cancer and are two times more likely to die from the disease than European-American women,” said study leader Kim E. Creek, Ph.D., vice chair and professor in the department of pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences in the South Carolina College of Pharmacy at the University of South Carolina in Charleston, S.C., at the AACR Annual Meeting 2012.

The study, called “Carolina’s Women’s Care Study,” assessed the virus and persistence in college-age women enrolled at the University of South Carolina. Creek followed hundreds of female participants in her study, which included 326 European-American and 113 African-American women.

The study found African American women were 1.5 times more likely to test positive for the infection. The study reports 56 percent of African American women were still infected two years after initial compared with 24 percent of European-American women.

It is not yet known why this is the case for African American women.

“We propose that an increase in high-risk HPV persistence in African-American women may provide a biological basis for the higher incidence of cervical cancer found in African-American women.”

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