WHAT IS HPV?!
What is HPV?
HPV = Human Papilloma Virus. You know the warts you can get on your hands or feet? Yep, you can get them on your lady parts, both outside and inside. They’re gross, but mostly harmless.
Unless you get them on your certain areas of your body, like your cervix. If your cervix is infected with HPV, this encourages abnormal cells to grow more quickly into cervical cancer. Yikes!!
Like all viruses, there are no medicines or antibiotics we can use. Only your BODY’S natural immune system can fight them off.
Smoking directly weakens your immune system, so that’s how smoking increases your risk of cancer.
A pap smear can test for certain types of HPV, particularly the “high risk” types #16 and 18.
If you’re at least 30 years old, we automatically test you every time you do a pap smear. If you’re under 30 and healthy, you have a better immune system so we’ll only test for HPV if the pap smear shows abnormal cells.
Your doctor will let you know what to do based on your results. You may need a repeat pap smear to watch you more closely or a procedure to further investigate or remove the cells.
THERE IS A VACCINE NOW!!!
It doesn’t protect against all types of HPV, but it is WAY better than nothing!! You can get it starting age 11, and until you’re 45. Please get it ASAP for yourself, your children, and everyone you know!!
It’s not a “sex vaccine.” Though HPV counts as an STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection), it can be gotten from non-sexual contact as well, any form of skin on skin contact with someone who has it, even if they have no warts at the moment. You can’t get it from objects like doorknobs, towels, or toilet seats.
HPV can affect your entire body, not just the cervix. It can cause cancers of the head, neck, throat, and butt (anus)! It is the ONLY vaccine against cancer that we have so far!!
If you get it before age 15, you’ll only need 2 shots instead of 3 in the series, within a 6 month period. Even if you can’t complete them all, each one adds a bit more protection.
It’s SO important to get this vaccine EARLY, long before any possible exposure. We don’t test HPV in all women and we can’t test for HPV in men, so we have no idea of the risk of >50% of the population! A 2017 estimate reported that almost half of all people ages 18-59 in the U.S. had some form of HPV.
Condoms and dental dams greatly decrease your risk, so practice safe sex whenever you can.
PROTECT YOURSELF TODAY WITH THE VACCINE!!!