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HPV, defeating a virus that causes cancer through vaccination

Human Papillomavirus, defeat a virus that causes cancer through vaccination
The Human Papillomavirus vaccine helps prevent cervical cancer, genital warts, and some other rare cancers.

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Genital Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) in the United States, for both women and men. About 79 million Americans have it, and it's so common that 80 percent of women will get at least one type of HPV at some point in their lives. However, there is a way to prevent it.

The Office on Women's Health (OASH) of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) specifies that HPV is generally transmitted through vaginal, oral, or anal sex. 

However, many women do not know they have HPV because it usually has no symptoms and usually goes away on its own. Some types of HPV can cause diseases such as genital warts or cervical cancer. 

HPV is the name of a group of viruses that includes more than 100 types. More than 40 types of it can be transmitted through sexual contact. 

HPV is transmitted through:

  • Vaginal, oral or anal sex. HPV can be transmitted even if there are no symptoms. This means that you can get HPV from someone who has no signs or symptoms.
  • Genital touch. A man does not need to ejaculate for HPV to spread. And it can also be transmitted between women who have sex with women.
  • The birth of a woman to her baby.

Most people with HPV do not have any symptoms. This is one of the reasons why women need regular Pap tests. Experts recommend that you have your first Pap test at age 21.

The Pap test can detect changes in the cervix caused by the Human Papillomavirus -HPV-. If you are a woman between 30 and 65 years old, your doctor may also test you for HPV with your Pap test every five years. This is a DNA test that detects most types of HPV.

Another way to tell if you have an HPV infection is if you have genital warts. Genital warts usually appear as a small lump or group of bumps in the genital area. They can be small or large, raised or flat, or cauliflower-shaped. Doctors can usually diagnose warts by looking at the genital area.

HPV usually goes away on its own and does not cause any health problems. But when HPV doesn't go away, it can cause health problems including:

  • Cervical cancer
  • Other genital cancers (such as cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, or anus)
  • Oropharyngeal cancer (cancer of the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils)
  • Genital warts
  • Recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (a rare condition that causes warts to grow in the respiratory tract)

HPV vaccine, the best help

The HPV vaccine helps prevent cervical cancer, genital warts, and some other rare cancers. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the HPV vaccine to prevent HPV-related diseases, including cervical cancer in women.

Experts recommend that most people receive the HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12. The HPV vaccine works best when you receive it before having any type of sexual contact with another person. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the HPV vaccine for people ages 9 to 45.

You may be interested in: Vaccination is and will be the key to protecting against COVID-19, influenza and RSV

Pamela Cruz
Pamela Cruz
Editor-in-Chief of Peninsula 360 Press. A communicologist by profession, but a journalist and writer by conviction, with more than 10 years of media experience. Specialized in medical and scientific journalism at Harvard and winner of the International Visitors Leadership Program scholarship from the U.S. government.

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