If further study confirms this novel finding, it would make the HPV vaccine even more important for black women, said Worta McCaskill-Stevens, a prevention specialist at the National Cancer Institute.
The vaccine is recommended for all girls starting at age 11.
The study was presented Sunday at an American Association for Cancer Research conference in Chicago.
Certain strains of HPV, the human papillomavirus, cause cervical cancer, but brief infections are very common in young women. They usually go away on their own within a year or so and only pose a cancer risk when they last long-term.
Researchers at the University of South Carolina in Columbia studied 326 white and 113 black students taking part in a wider federal health study.
All were given Pap tests – lab exams of cells scraped from the cervix – and HPV tests every six months throughout their years in school.
Although the groups were similar in how many new HPV infections were detected and risk factors such as how many sex partners they had, doctors saw striking differences in how long their infections lasted.
At any check-up, blacks were 1.5 times more likely to test positive for infection with one of the HPV strains that raise cancer risk, said study leader Kim Creek.
‘The African-American women weren’t clearing the virus as fast. They were actually holding onto it about six months longer,’ for 18 months versus 12 months for whites, he said.
Ten per cent of blacks had abnormal Pap tests versus six per cent of whites.
Two years after initial infections were found, 56 per cent of black women were still infected but only 24 per cent of whites remained infected.
The government’s National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities sponsored the study. Creek is a paid speaker for Merck & Co., one of the makers of HPV vaccines.
The results are ‘provocative’ and need validation in a study that looks beyond this one region, said McCaskill-Stevens of the cancer institute.
‘We have known there are genetic differences between the races,’ and it’s possible that a gene from certain ancestries such as African might play a role in the ability to clear an HPV infection, she said.
At any check-up, blacks were 1.5 times more likely to test positive for infection with one of the HPV strains that raise cancer risk
Story @ Daily Mail
- Blacks have trouble clearing cervical cancer virus (hosted.ap.org)
- Researchers probe race in cervical cancer mortality (ctv.ca)
- Blacks have trouble clearing HPV, study finds; may help explain cervical … – Washington Post (drugstoresource.wordpress.com)
- Blacks Have Trouble Clearing Cervical Cancer Virus – NPR (drugstoresource.wordpress.com)