Human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The virus causes genital warts and some kinds of cancer. But what if I told you there was a shot that could prevent infection and protect against the spread of HPV? Well, there is!
Doctors recommend that all people get the HPV vaccine from ages 9 – 26; the best time to get vaccinated is from 11-12 because that is when the body’s immune system is best primed for this vaccine.
Besides causing genital warts known as herpes, an HPV infection can mean trouble for anyone:
- For people with a vagina, an HPV infection can cause problems with the cervix that may lead to cervical cancer. An HPV infection also can cause problems that may lead to cancer in the vagina, vulva, anus, mouth, and throat. New research suggests that HPV may be linked to heart disease in people with a vagina.
- In people with a penis, an HPV infection may lead to cancer in the penis, anus, mouth, and throat.
- Both people can get HPV from sexual contact, including vaginal, oral, and anal sex.
Most folks infected with HPV don’t know they have it because there might not be any signs or symptoms. Although some might not notice, the virus can still be in their system, causing damage. This means that people with HPV can pass the infection to others without knowing it.
Talk to your primary doctor if you’re interested in getting the HPV vaccine or are worried about STIs. Check out these resources for more information about HPV: