Whether you are a parent or a young adult, you should understand the significant dangers of the HPV virus and how it is spread.
As a parent you do everything in your power to protect your children from harm. You may have seen ads on the television about getting a vaccine, but didn’t quite understand if you should be concerned. Not only should you be concerned, you should learn all about HPV and the importance of the Gardasil 9 vaccine in order to protect your children and yourself.
What Is HPV and Why the Concern?
HPV, which stands for Human Papillomavirus, is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) . There are 80 million Americans currently infected with HPV and 14 million new cases are reported each year, according to the CDC. There are 40 different strains of HPV, many of which cause warts, but others can cause cancer. Not every infection leads to cancer, but nevertheless, you need to understand the severe consequences of ignoring this serious disease.
Most people have no symptoms and are not aware they have been infected with HPV. Later in life they can develop risk factors for 6 types of cancer.
- 13 strains can cause cervical cancer in women
- 1 strain can cause cancer of the penis
- Other strains can cause cancer of the vagina and vulva, the anus, plus cancers in the back of the throat, and base of the tongue, and of the tonsils in both men and women.
Warts often develop as a result of HPV, including genital warts, common warts on fingers, hands and elbows, plantar warts on the feet, and flat lesions in children and adolescents on the face, neck, and other scratched areas. These can be treated by your OBGYN if they are diagnosed as HPV.
How HPV Is Transmitted
Although designated as a sexually transmitted disease, a person does not have to have sex to be infected with Human Papillomavirus. This is a crucial piece of information to remember, since any skin to skin contact can lead to spreading of the virus, including open mouth kissing with an infected person. Most commonly the virus is transmitted through vaginal, oral and anal sex and can even be transmitted to infants during birth.
Thus, virtually any sexually active person can get HPV.
Protecting Your Children and Yourself from HPV
There are a number of ways to protect yourself and those you love from Human Papillomavirus.
Women should get regular pap tests to spot any issues of the cervix, and they can concurrently be tested for HPV during this regular gynecological exam. Women can also be tested separately for the HPV virus. In addition, there is a DNA test to detect the high risk strains for women age 30 and older, and this test can also be given to females age 25 and older without a pap smear.
Men should look for any warts in their genital area and report any abnormal symptoms to their physician immediately.
The Gardasil 9 vaccine is the ultimate protection from HPV. The best age for the vaccine is prior to any sexual experience. Children age 11 and 12 can be vaccinated using two doses that are required six months apart from one another. Adolescents age 15 and older who have not had the vaccine will need three doses. The CDC now allows children to receive the Gardasil 9 vaccine as early as age 9.
Quite recently, the CDC expanded the use of Gardasil 9 for adults ages 27 through 45. Ask your OBGYN at Winter Haven Obstetrics & Gynecology about the new changes, and don’t delay in getting your vaccination. There is no cure if you have the virus, but you can protect yourself and your children before they are infected.
Almost 34 thousand people are diagnosed with cancer caused by the HPV virus every year. Almost 90% of those cancers can be prevented with the vaccine.
Contact your OBGYN at Winter Haven Obstetrics & Gynecology to have your children and/or yourself vaccinated from the HPV virus as soon as possible! You can schedule your appointment by calling (863) 299-1107 or by requesting an appointment online today.