You’ve probably heard a lot about human papillomavirus (HPV) and the vaccination to guard young women against it, especially if you have a teenage daughter. Here are the basics about this widespread sexually transmitted virus.
What is HPV?
HPV is a common virus. There are many different types of the virus—some strains can develop into cervical cancer, pre-cancerous lesions or genital warts.
Who is at risk?
The CDC has estimated that approximately 50 percent of sexually active people contract HPV during their lifetime. Approximately 6 million new cases are diagnosed every year in the United States. Although a male or female of any age can get it, it is estimated that 74 percent of the cases occur in 15- to 24-year-olds.
How do you get it?
Many people with HPV may not know they have it since they do not have any signs or symptoms. This means they can pass on the virus to others without knowing it. HPV is easily transmitted from person to person with any type of sexual contact.
How do you protect yourself from getting HPV?
Gardasil is a vaccine that protects against certain high-risk types of HPV, reducing the risk of cervical cancer by 70 percent, and genital warts by 90 percent. Gardasil is given in three doses. Girls and women 9 through 26 years of age can receive Gardasil. Vaccination does not substitute routine cervical-cancer screening, and works best when administered before contact with certain types of HPV.
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