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Posted By iamincontrol | September 26, 2013
What is HPV?
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a family of viruses that commonly infect the genital area and lining of the cervix. HPV causes cervical cancer in women, as well as other oral and genital warts and cancers in BOTH men and women. HPV is very common; affecting approximately 79 million people in the United States. Almost all sexually active people get HPV at some point in their life, but most never know they have been infected.
How common is it?
In Iowa each year, 105 women will develop invasive cervical cancer and 36 women will die from this disease. Nationwide, about 17,000 women get cancer that is linked with HPV, with cervical cancer being the most common. Around 9,000 men get an HPV-associated cancer, and the most common are cancers of the back of throat, tongue, and tonsils. HPV can also cause cancers of the vulva and vagina in women, cancer of the penis in men, and cancer of the anus in women and men. This translates to an estimated 262 Iowans diagnosed with an HPV-associated cancer yearly.
So what can you do?
It turns out that 81% of the HPV-associated cancers we mentioned are believed to be preventable through the use of a 3-dose HPV vaccine series. The HPV vaccine is effective and safe. In fact, a recent study by the CDC showed HPV vaccine is lowering infection rates in teen girls by half. Other studies have shown genital warts (caused by HPV infections) have also decreased in teens since the vaccine came out.
Things to remember about the HPV vaccine:
- HPV vaccines are given in a series of 3 shots over six months. For the best protection, it is very important to get all 3 shots prior to sexual activity.
- It’s important not to wait until sexual activity starts to receive the vaccine.
- Both boys and girls should get all three doses of HPV vaccine when they are 11 or 12 years old. It is also recommended for all teenagers and adults between 13 and 26 years of age if they did not get the vaccine when they were younger.
Still on the fence about your decision? Watch this great video about the HPV vaccine and the pros and cons of getting it.
Take advantage of any visit to the doctor, checkups, sick visits, even physicals for sports or school to ask your doctor about vaccines. You are in control of staying safe and protected.