HPV 101 and the Importance of Vaccination

According to a study conducted by Cancer Research UK, the HPV vaccine has been found to cut cervical cancer rates by 87% among women who received the vaccine series when they were 12 or 13 years of age. 

To make sure you're fully informed, continue reating to learn more about the basics of HPV, the HPV vaccine and the importance for girls and boys to get vaccinated.

What is HPV?

HPV stands for the human papillomavirus that causes cancers of the cervix, vagina and vulva in women; cancers of the penis in men; and cancers of the anus and back of the throat, including the tongue and tonsils, in both women and men. Some other HPV strains can also cause genital warts.

How common is HPV?

HPV is a very common virus. Nearly 79 million people—about one in four—are currently infected in the United States. About 14 million people, including teens, become infected with HPV each year and 80 percent of sexually active adults are estimated to have HPV at some point in their lives. While many of those cases clear up naturally, the risk of HPV developing into cancer is a risk.

How does a person get HPV?

HPV is spread through sexual activity, but you do not have to have sexual intercourse to get HPV. The virus is spread through skin-to-skin contact during sexual activity, including vaginal, anal or oral sex.

How do I know if I have it?

In many people, HPV does not cause any obvious symptoms. You might find genital warts that look like small, flesh-colored hard spots. You may also experience itching, pain or bleeding after intercourse. With that said, most symptoms are rare and only a Pap smear will likely find them. Even without symptoms, you can still pass it onto your sexual partner(s).

What is the cure?

There is currently no cure for HPV. The virus will eventually clear up naturally for most people, but there is no way to know for sure. In addition to wearing a condom during sexual activity, medical professionals recommend all young people recieve the HPV vaccine.

What is the HPV Vaccine?

The most effective way to prevent HPV is to get the vaccine. The vaccine is recommended for boys and girls, who are 11 or 12 years old, and requires two doses for ultimate protection. If, for some reason, you were not vaccinated at this age, everyone through the age of 26 can still receive the vaccine. 

My child is just a kid and not sexually active. Why should he or she get the vaccine now?

It’s actually best to get vaccinated early on because that is the best time for the body to develop a full immune response to HPV – before they begin sexual activity with another person. 

Is the HPV vaccine safe?

Yes. The HPV vaccination has been studied very carefully and continues to be monitored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). No serious safety concerns have been linked to HPV vaccination.

The bottom line is that HPV is very common, and the HPV vaccine is a simple way to protect your child from it. Since the vaccine was recommended in 2006, the amount of HPV infections in teen girls alone decreased by 56 percent. Research has also shown that fewer teens are getting genital warts since HPV vaccines have been in use.

How We Can Help

If you would like to talk to your child's provider to learn more about HPV or make an appointment for an HPV vaccination, contact us today.

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As of November 12, 2022