Health Blog

Swipe Right on the HPV Vaccine

Be the generation that leads by example and helps reduce the number of HPV infections and cancers caused by HPV. The best way to protect yourself and others from getting infected with HPV is to get the HPV vaccine.

Swipe Right on the HPV Vaccine

Did you know that HPV, or human papillomavirus, is so common that nearly all men and women will get at least one type of HPV at some point in their lives?

Wondering what HPV is? HPV is the name of a group of viruses that infect the skin. There are more than 100 different types of HPV and it’s the most common sexually transmitted disease. In fact, each year in the United States, approximately 14 million new cases of sexually transmitted HPV occur. At least 79 million people are estimated to be currently infected. The frightening part is, most people with HPV don’t even know they are infected because they don’t notice any signs or symptoms!

Now that we have your attention, let’s talk about how HPV spreads. HPV spreads through skin-to-skin contact, not through an exchange of bodily fluid. Unfortunately, the virus commonly stays dormant, which can cause those who are infected to unknowingly spread HPV to their loved ones. While it’s easy to think this won’t happen to me, you should remember that HPV can infect anyone who has ever had a sexual encounter. 

Is HPV dangerous or harmful?

While most of the viruses won’t result in any permanent health concerns, there are instances where some types of HPV can cause cervical cancer. That is where the HPV vaccine comes into play (keep reading!). 

The HPV vaccine

The best way to protect yourself and others from getting infected with HPV is to get the HPV vaccine. This vaccine is approved for ages 9-26; for kids ages 9-14, the vaccine is given in two shorts over a 6- to 12-month period. For teens and young adults, ages 15-26 in girls and 15-21 in guys, the vaccine is given in three shots over six months. The vaccine works best when you receive all of the shots on schedule. If you are over 26 and miss a shot, don’t worry! You can still catch up, just ask your primary care provider about the best way to go about it.

Keep in mind that the vaccine doesn’t protect people against strains of HPV that might have infected them before getting the vaccine. Which brings us to our next important point – the most effective way to prevent HPV infection is to get vaccinated before having sex! 

Let's be clear; the HPV vaccine is NOT a replacement for using condoms to protect against other strains of HPV and other STDs. It’s a myth that if you use condoms, you are not at risk. When used correctly, condoms are very effective against STIs, like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV, because they spread through bodily fluids. But since condoms don’t cover the entire genital area of either sex, contact between these areas can still transmit HPV.  

If you’re still not convinced, here’s a few more reasons you should get the HPV vaccine…

  • Since the vaccine has been in use, HPV infections and cervical precancers have dropped significantly. The HPV types that cause cancers and genital warts have actually dropped 86% among teen girls.
  • The HPV vaccine can help prevent cancer! An estimated 35,000 cases of cancer in men and women is caused by HPV. The vaccination can prevent more than 32,000 of these cancers from developing by preventing the infections that cause those cancers.
  • The vaccine has a reassuring safety record that is backed by over ten years of monitoring and research. Medical studies show that the protection the HPV vaccine provides is long-lasting. The studies have followed people who received the vaccine for about ten years and there has been no evidence of the protection decreasing over time.
  • It is better to get vaccinated now than to treat cancer caused by HPV later in life!

So, what is our point? Get the HPV vaccine! It will not only keep you protected against HPV and cancers caused by HPV, but you will be helping make our community healthier. Speak with your primary healthcare provider about getting the HPV vaccine at your next office visit.

Need a primary care provider? No Problem! CCP has offices located all over the Capital Region. You can talk to our Concierge Care Coordinator who can help find the right CCP provider for you, just call (518) 782-3800.

Be the generation that leads by example and helps reduce the number of HPV infections and cancers caused by HPV. The next time you swipe right, keep in mind how common these infections are and how simple it is to protect yourself against them!



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