HPV – you’ve heard of it – Human PapillomaVirus? What do you think the PAP smears (recommended ages 21-65) are about? Yes, screening for presence of papillomavirus on a woman’s cervix. HPV is most common STD in the US but in 90% of cases our immune system clears it. 74% of infections occur in 15-24 y.o. effecting both sexes.
However if not cleared this virus does not just cause genital warts, cervical and anal cancer but also head and neck cancers. The FDA approved a vaccine that targets 4 subtypes (quadrivalent) that cause cervical cancer (HPV 16/18 and genital warts (HPV6/11). Young adolescents (9-12) should be vaccinated before exposure to this virus from sexual activity (oral, anal included). Remember a vaccine does not treat an existing virus. Only 1/3 of young females have been vaccinated with the 3 dose series. Recommendation has now gone to women up to 26 as the vaccine may possible help prevent cancer in non cervical areas. Ask your medical care provider and complete all 3 vaccines. More info is available on-line through many websites including: Center For Disease Control, vaccine maker’s site, FDA consumer site and more.