HPV Ain't Pretty...Neither Is Cancer
Get the facts, get the vaccine.
What is HPV?
· HPV is so common nearly all men and women will get it at some point. About 79 million Americans have HPV right now.
· There are many kinds of HPV. Some can cause health problems, including genital warts and cancers.
· However, there are vaccines that can stop these health problems.
Who Gets Infected?
· Through vaginal, anal or oral sex with someone who has the virus – most commonly with the first two.
· HPV can be passed even when an infected person has no symptoms.
· Anyone who is sexually active can get HPV, even if you are only having sex with one person.
· You can develop it years after having sex with an infected person, making it hard to know when you first got it.
What Does HPV Do?
· In most cases, HPV goes away on its own and doesn’t cause any problems, but when it doesn’t …
· HPV can cause a number of cancers, including cervical (its most common cause), vulvar, vaginal, penile, anal and oropharyngeal (back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils). About 32,000 Americans get an HPV-related cancer each year.
· HPV can cause genital warts, which usually appear as a small bump or group of bumps in the genital area. About 360,000 Americans get genital warts each year.
· There is no way to know which people who have HPV will develop cancer or other problems. People with weak immune systems (including those with HIV/AIDS) may be less able to fight off HPV
How Can I Avoid HPV Health Problems?
· Get vaccinated! There are only two vaccines that protect against cancer and the HPV vaccine is one of them. They protect both males and females when given in the recommended age groups (see below). HPV vaccines are given in three (3) shots over six (6) months and it is important to get all three (3) doses.
· Get screened for cervical cancer. Routine screenings (Pap tests) for women between 21 and 65 are recommended and are covered by all insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid.
· If you are sexually active, correctly use latex condoms every time you have sex. HPV can still infect areas not covered by a condom.
· 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 should get vaccinated.
· Catch-up vaccines are recommended for males through age 21 and for females through age 26, if they did not get vaccinated when they were younger.
· It is also recommended for gay and bisexual men (or any man who has sex with a man) through age 26; and men and women with compromised immune systems (including people living with HIV/AIDS) through age 26, if they did not get fully vaccinated when they were younger.
For more information, go to http://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpv.htm