Incidence and prevalence of HPV in Canada

There are so many types of HPV and since we don’t routinely screen for all of them the prevalence of this virus can only be approximated.

It is estimated that 75% of Canadians will have at least one HPV infection in their lifetime. The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada estimates that 10% to 30% of the Canadian adult population is infected with HPV. This is in line with research from the US and Europe which has shown that 10% to 40% of sexually active women are infected by HPV at any one time.

According to the American Social Health Association, approximately 5.5 million new cases of sexually transmitted HPV infections are reported every year. Based on Canadian population statistics an estimated three to nine million Canadians are infected with HPV.

In Canada it is estimated that:

  • The highest rates of HPV infection are found in people under the age of 25.
  • 2% of sexually active young women have genital warts.
  • The prevalence for cancer-causing types of HPV in different groups of females ranges from 11% to 25%.

We also know that the prevalence of anal cancer, most of which is believed to be caused by HPV, has doubled in the past 25 years. An estimated 1,500 Canadian women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year; lower socio-economic, immigrant and Aboriginal women are all under-screened so these numbers could be much higher. Current estimates indicate that each year 580 women die from cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is the third most frequent cancer in women during their child bearing years — between the ages of 20 to 49. The association between HPV and cervical cancer is stronger than between tobacco and lung cancer.

The prevalence of genital HPV infections increases with increasing numbers of sexual partners; a clinical study of women who have had more than one sexual partner showed that 46% had cervical HPV infection at three years after their first intercourse.

HPV Information Fact Sheets


Within one year of initially contracting certain types of the HPV virus, low-grade cervical, genital or anal lesions may develop.