What is the HPV vaccine?
The HPV vaccine is an injection available to protect against the most common types of HPV infections which causes cervical cancer. The HPV vaccines are generally recommended for girls 9-13 of age, with all 3 doses given within six months based on the World Health Organization recommendations. However, the vaccine may also be given to boys or young men. Vaccine protection is long-lasting, Current studies have followed vaccinated individuals for ten years, and show that there is no evidence of weakened protection over time.
What is HPV infection?
Genital HPV is a common virus that is passed from one person to another through direct skin-to-skin contact during sexual activity. Most sexually active people will get HPV at some time in their lives, though most will never even know it. The HPV infection is most common in people in their late teens and early 20s. There are about 40 types of HPV that can infect the genital areas of men and women. Most HPV types cause no symptoms and go away on their own. But some types can cause cervical cancer in women and other less common cancers — like cancers of the anus, penis, vagina, and vulva and oropharynx. Other types of HPV can cause warts in the genital areas of men and women, called genital warts. Genital warts are not life-threatening. But they can cause emotional stress and their treatment can be very uncomfortable.
Cervical cancer usually does not cause symptoms until it is quite advanced. At this time, it may present with bleeding after sex or spotting or bleeding between your monthly periods.
Testing for HPV is pretty simply there is a test for HPV called the HPV test. For women who are age 30 or older, the HPV test can be done at the same time as the Pap test.
If you are sexually active, you can reduce your risk by:
- Limiting the number of sex partners; and choosing a partner who has had no or few prior sex partners.
- Being in a faithful relationship with one partner.
Using condoms, however, this will only reduce the risk of HPV infection. The HPV infection can also be spread unto areas not covered by a condom – so condoms may not fully protect against HPV.
Parents ask your doctor about getting your child vaccinated against HPV.
To detect cervical cancer in the earliest stages, see your health care provider for regular Pap tests beginning at age 21. Seek prompt medical attention if you notice any signs or symptoms of cervical cancer.
Your health… Your responsibility!