FACTS ABOUT HPV AND CERVICAL CANCER

HPV IS COMMON

Most sexually active individuals will have HPV at some point.

TYPES

Some types of HPV can cause genital warts while some other different types are linked to cervical cell changes that, if not detected early, can increase a woman’s risk for cervical cancer. HPV also causes some cancers of the penis, anus, vagina, vulva, and throat. HPV infections are usually harmless, though, and most are cleared naturally by the body in a year or two.

HPV vaccines can help prevent infection from both high risk HPV types that can lead to cervical cancer and low risk types that cause genital warts. The CDC recommends all boys and girls

get the HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12, but vaccination is avail- able through age 26. The vaccine produces a stronger immune response when taken during the preteen years. For this reason, up until age 14, only two doses of the vaccine are required.

TRANSMISSION

HPV is usually passed by genital-to-genital and genital-to-anal contact (even without penetration). The virus can also be transmitted by oral to genital contact, although this probably occurs less often. Studies show that male condoms can reduce HPV transmission to females, although condoms only protect the skin they cover.

TESTING

A Pap test can find cell changes to the cervix caused by HPV. HPV tests find the virus and help healthcare providers know which women are at highest risk for cervical cancer. A Pap/ HPV co-test is recommended for women 30 and over. One HPV test has been approved for use as primary cervical cancer screening for women age 25 and older, followed by a Pap test for women with certain results.

TREATMENT

There’s no treatment for the virus itself, but healthcare providers have plenty of options to treat diseases caused by HPV.

RELATIONSHIPS

It can take weeks, months, or even years after exposure to HPV before symptoms develop or the virus is detected. This is why it is usually impossible to determine when or from whom HPV may have been contracted. A recent diagnosis of HPV does not necessarily mean anyone has been unfaithful, even in a long-term relationship spanning years.

PREGNANCY

Pregnant women with HPV almost always have natural deliveries and healthy babies—it is very rare for a newborn to get HPV from the mother.

We advise that you get vaccinated to reduce your chances of getting cervical cancer.

party culled from national cervical cancer coalition