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Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

 

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). HPV is so common that nearly all sexually active men and women get it at some point in their lives. There are many different types of HPV. Some types can cause health problems including genital warts and cancers, but there are vaccines that can stop these health problems from happening.

 

HPV is spread by having oral, vaginal or anal sex. HPV can be passed when an infected person has no signs or symptoms. Anyone who is sexually active can get HPV, even if you have had sex with only one person. You also can develop signs and symptoms years after you have had sex with someone who is infected making it hard to know when you first became infected.

 

HPV can cause cervical cancer and other cancers including, cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis or anus. It can also cause cancer in the back of your throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils. Cancer often takes years to develop after a person gets HPV. The types of HPV that can cause genital warts are not the same types of HPV that can cause cancers. There is no way to know which people who have HPV will develop cancer or other health problems. People with week immune systems may be less able to fight off HPV and more likely to develop health problems from it, this includes people with HIV/AIDS.

 

You can lower your risk of getting HPV by getting vaccinated!

 

HPV Vaccines are safe and effective. They can protect males and females against diseases (including cancers) caused by HPV when given in the recommended age groups. HPV vaccines are given in three shots over six months; it is important to get ALL THREE DOSES.

 

Routine screening for women aged 21 to 65 years old can prevent cervical cancer.

 

If you are sexually active:

-Use latex condoms the right way everytime you have sex. This can lower your chances of getting HPV, but HPV can infect areas that are not covered by a condom- so condoms may not give full protection against getting HPV.

 

-Be in a mutually monogamous relationship - or have sex only with someone who only has sex with you.

 

Who should get vaccinated:

-All boys and girls ages 11 or 12 years should get vaccinated.

 

-Catch-up vaccines are recommended for males through age 21 and for females through age 26. It is also recommended for men and women with compromised immune systems if they did not get vaccinated when they were younger.

 

HPV tests can be administered for women through a Pap test. If primary Pap test results come back abnormal - an HPV test can be given on a follow-up visit.

 

About 79 Million Americans are currently infected with HPV. About 14 Million people become newly infected each year. HPV is so common that most sexually active men and women will become newly infected each year.

 

Information gathered from www.cdc.gov