Even girls who have not had sexual intercourse are at risk for infection with human papillomavirus (HPV), a new study shows.
In the study, which involved teen girls and young women, 11.6 percent of those who had never had sexual intercourse were infected with at least one strain of HPV.
HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that is most commonly passed between people during vaginal or anal intercourse. But it can also be transmitted through genital-to-genital, or hand-to-genital contact, which is how the participants in the study likely got the virus, the researchers said. Out of the more than 40 sexually transmitted HPV strains, more than a dozen have been identified as cancer-causing, according to the National Cancer Institute.
HPV infections are usually transient, but can cause cervical cancer in some people if the infection lingers for long periods.