Medicine: Another Sexual Blight to Fight

The spread of HPV poses a particular threat to teenage girls

"This virus is rampant," says Dr. Stephen Curry of the New England Medical Center in Boston. "If it weren't for AIDS, stories about it would be on the front page of every newspaper." The doctor is referring to a fast-spreading blight that afflicts millions of Americans, including more and more teenage girls. Caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), it is sexually transmitted, sometimes painful and often incurable. Its chief symptom in both men and women is genital warts, which frequently occur after infection.

Conventional treatments cannot rid the body of HPV, which can remain latent for decades. Thus the warts often...

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