HPV is one of the most common STD (Sexually Transmitted Diseases) in the US, with currently 14 million new cases being detected every year. Also known as the Human Papiloma Virus, it’s in fact a group of viruses that infect the skin. The bad news is, although it’s not as lethal as HIV, HPV can live undetected in a human body for years, unless the individual is screened for cervical cancer, or is found to have warts in hands, feet or the genital area.
The good news, however, is that there are vaccines that can help prevent this sexually transmitted infection. If you haven’t received a shot for HPV at age 11 or 12, the appropriate time to take the shot again is around 26 years old. Keep in mind that there are three mandatory shots that need to be taken over the course of 6 months. This is especially important if you’re already sexually active, as this very common disease can be spread among anyone who has had vaginal, anal or oral intercourse at least once.
There are currently over a 100 different kinds of HPV. The most common can be quickly detected and treated with regular screening.
However, when not treated soon after being diagnosed, HPV can lead to cancer in the cervix, mouth, lips, vagina, vulva, penis, and the back of the throat.
Most people don’t know they carry the virus until they start to experience health problems related to it, such as distress in the cervix area -all the more reason to get screened to receive timely treatment for the symptoms.
If you’re a smoker and you’re carrying HPV, your chances of survival are 50% in comparison to the 80% chance of non-smoker with the disease.
How to Prevent It
A simple way to prevent HPV is by maintain a mutually monogamous relationship. HPV is a lot easily spread among promiscuous partners.
Wear latex condoms to reduce the probabilities of transmitting the virus.
Pregnant woman also need to get regular screening for prevention reasons.
While the actual virus cannot be treated, its symptoms can. For this reason, take care of yourself and your partner and get screened immediately if you notice abnormal results in your regular checkups.
About 11.000 women in the US are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year. Over 4,000 of those end up being fatal cases due to lack of prevention. If you’re sexually active, you could be among the millions of Americans who currently are unaware they carry HPV. Call your health provider and get screened today, to live a healthy STD-free sexual life, tomorrow.