Epidemiology of HPV infection
Papillomavirus causes one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in women and men.
Papillomavirus infection is common at the beginning of sexual life (between 18 and 25 years) in 1/3 of young women. The risk of infection decreases with age and is greater in young sexually active women and less in men. However, about 70-80% of the sexually active population will be in contact with papillomavirus during his sex life.
In 90% of cases, infections disappear spontaneously after 2-3 years. In 3-10% of women, the virus will persist and develop cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN), a precursor to cervical cancer. Between the onset of an oncogenic HPV infection and the appearance of cervical lesions or cancer, it may take several years.
In Belgium, cervical cancer represents the 8th most common cancer in women. Every year about 650 cases of invasive cervical cancers are reported and about 200 women die (1).