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NIAID Research on Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Genital Warts

As part of its larger research program on sexually transmitted diseases, NIAID conducts and supports research to better understand papillomaviruses and the natural history of HPV infection, develop new diagnostics with more accurate and rapid detection of HPV infections, find new treatments, examine current HPV prevention strategies and the impact of behavior and age on HPV infection, expand understanding of the immunological responses to the two currently approved HPV vaccines, and develop next generation vaccines capable of protecting against multiple strains of the virus.

NIAID also supports research examining current HPV prevention strategies and the impact of behavior and age on HPV infection. At the University of Washington in Seattle, Dr. Laura Koutsky was one of the first researchers to investigate the immune response to an investigational HPV vaccine to protect against type 16 of the virus. Now that two vaccines to protect against HPV type 16 are Food and Drug Administration-approved and available, this research has been extended to look at the long-term immune response to the vaccines. Specifically, the research team is collecting three to four-year follow-up data on women who received the investigational HPV16 vaccine in 1999 or 2000, women who have received one of the licensed HPV vaccines since their approval in 2009, and a group of women who have not received an HPV vaccine. The data will help researchers determine the long-term immunogenicity and effectiveness of HPV vaccines and evaluate local and systemic immune responses to HPV over time.

In other NIAID-supported studies, Dr. Rachel Winer, an assistant professor of epidemiology also at the University of Washington, is studying risk factors associated with HPV infection and infection among different age ranges. Although some HPV risk factors are known, such as starting a new sexual relationship, others are not as well-defined. In addition, while HPV is most prevalent among young women, the risk associated with new, persistent HPV infection among older women is largely unknown. Dr. Winer’s team is examining whether risks of new HPV infection among women who are 45-65 years of age is greater than in women who are 25-45 years old. This research will provide critical information for developing future HPV.

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Last Updated February 14, 2012