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Cervical Cancer Virus Can Reactivate

Cervical Cancer Virus Can Reactivate


Human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted virus linked with cervical cancer, can be reactivated after lying dormant in the body for years, which could help explain why HIV-positive women have high rates of the cancer, researchers report in the April 20 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Studies show that the incurable virus often lies undetected because the immune system can control it, but it can reactivate many months later. Women with suppressed immune systems are particularly susceptible to HPV reactivation, according to the researchers. 'Our data suggest that undetectable HPV infections become active much more frequently in HIV-positive women, which helps explain the extremely high rates of HPV infection in these women,' lead researcher Howard Strickler says. HIV-positive women should receive regular Pap smear tests to detect early signs of precancerous conditions and be given HPV tests to alert their doctors to the presence of activated virus, the researchers say.

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