Human papillomavirus, or HPV is by far the most prevalent sexually transmitted infection (STI) reported in the United States, accounting for 79 million of the 110 million total STI in the country, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

On Sunday evening, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced via her Twitter account she was positive for “High risk HPV”. The 45-year-old speaker said, “To say I’m not wee bit worried = lie”. An aide to the speaker, who was vacationing in Puerto Rico, according to the Wall Street Journal, confirmed the tweets were authentic.

The CDC says most sexually active men and women will get HPV at some point in their lives, which translates to everyone’s at risk.

Although the body’s immune system clears most HPV naturally within two years (about 90 percent), some infections can persist causing diseases like genital warts and more seriously, cervical and other cancers.

There has been a protective vaccine available in the US since 2006; however, the federal health agency says the HPV vaccine uptake in the US is relatively low. In 2012, a national survey found that 54% of girls aged 13-17 years had received at least 1 dose of the HPV vaccine series, but only 33% had received all 3 doses in the series. Vaccine uptake is very low among boys. For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page

Melissa Mark-Viverito tweets about her HPV status