Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine
All About Women OB/GYN in Reston & Dulles, VA
What is HPV?
HPV, or human papillomavirus, is a large group of viruses that can cause diseases and cancer in both men and women. Of the nearly 150 types of HPV, more than 30 of them can affect the genital area. Because of its ability to infect a number of areas on one’s body, including the skin, HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease. In fact, there are nearly 14 million new HPV infections in the United States each year, and nearly 80 million currently infected.
If not prevented, HPV can cause issues such as:
- Cervical Cancer
- Genital Warts
- Throat Cancer
- Penile Cancer
- Anal Cancer
How to Protect Against HPV
Because most HPV infections go away by themselves, and those infected with HPV rarely develop symptoms, prevention is of the most importance. There are a few things you may do to lower your chances of getting HPV including:
- Use condoms during intercourse (however, HPV can infect areas not covered by a condom)
- Practice safe sex or monogamy
- Get screened for STDs regularly
- Get screened for cervical cancer
- Get vaccinated
The most effective method of prevention is the HPV vaccine which protects you against most types of HPV that lead to cancer or infection.
It’s important to vaccinate all children who are of the ages of 11 to 12 years old in two rounds, about six to twelve months apart. If your child did not receive the vaccine at this age, and is older than 14, three shots can be given over the course of six months in order to have the same effect.
The HPV vaccine is also recommended for young women up to 26 years old, and young men up to 21. If someone has an immunocompromising condition, they should receive the vaccination up to 26 years of age.
It is important to remember that the HPV vaccination can not cure HPV if you have already been infected. If you have an HPV infection, you must talk to your physician about treatment. In addition, you should still receive regular STD and Pap tests.
For more information about HPV vaccines, call All About Women OB/GYN at today.