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Alexa Ray Joel: STD Poster Child?

Cindy Ord/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- An uptown girl’s downtown world just got a little more dangerous. Alexa Ray Joel, the daughter of musician Billy Joel and supermodel Christie Brinkley, has revealed she had contracted the human papilloma virus from her ex-boyfriend.

Joel has previously spoken out about her bouts with depression, surviving her parents’ very public divorce and her own troubling breakups.

While HPV candor might be rare, the virus itself is not. More than 75 percent of women and 50 percent of men will contract it during their lifetimes, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

But few choose to speak about it as openly as Joel has, said Dr. Samuel Katz, a professor at the Duke University School of Medicine.

“That’s certainly going public on what is a rather a discreet medical affair,” he said.

But Dr. Diane Harper, a professor of gynecology at the University of Missouri, said there’s no reason people should be silent about HPV.

“I actually am happy she is able to say that,” Harper told ABC News. “I want people to know it’s OK to have HPV.  It’s very common.”

Harper said there are dozens of HPV strains, and most tend to go away over time. She said it’s inevitable that many will contract it at some point in their lives.

“This is an infection, just as there are other infections,” she said.  “It shouldn’t be a social taboo.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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