HPV: The STI You May Already Have

Human Papilloma Virus, or HPV, is a sexually transmitted disease and is commonly spread through oral, vaginal or anal sex. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 80% of people will get an HPV infection in their lives, making it the most common STI in the United States.

How do I know if I have HPV?
Most individuals afflicted with HPV are not aware of it and do not develop health issues from it. There is no test to specifically test for HPV. Individuals who do develop symptoms typically find out that they have HPV when they get genital warts. Women may find out they have HPV when completing a Pap smear, which screens for cervical cancer.

What disease can HPV cause?
In addition to genital warts, HPV is associated with cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancer in females, penile cancer in males, and anal and oropharyngeal (mouth and throat) cancer in both males and females.

How can I treat HPV?
There is no treatment for HPV, only the diseases it may cause. Recommended treatments will vary by disease and its stage.

Can HPV be prevented?
To lower your chances of contracting HPV, vaccinations (currently Gardasil) are recommended to be initiated for males and females at age 11 but can be initiated as early as age 9. Vaccinations are also recommended for males ages 13 – 21 and females ages 13 – 26. Women of 30 years or older should get a pap smear every year.
Other ways to reduce the risk of contracting it include using latex condoms, which are not 100% effective or being monogamous, which does not guarantee immunity from the STI.

Behaviors that put people at higher risk for not fighting it off include immune-compromising activities such as consuming alcohol, smoking or staying sedentary.

If you have not gotten your yearly check-up or are due for a pap smear, schedule an appointment with us today by calling South Bay Ob/Gyn at 631-203-8893.

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