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Preventing Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

What is HPV?

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). There are more than 200 types of HPV. Some types can cause health complications such as genital warts and cancers.

How is HPV spread?

Various Strains of HPV spread through sexual contact and are associated with most cases of cervical cancer. You can get HPV by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the virus. HPV can be passed even when an infected person has no signs or symptoms.

Anyone who is sexually active can get HPV. Symptoms can develop years after you have sex with an infected individual. This makes it challenging to know when you first became infected.

Does HPV cause health problems?

According to the CDC, In most cases, HPV goes away on its own and does not cause any health problems. But when HPV does not go away, it can cause health problems like genital warts and cancer.

HPV is known to cause cervical and other cancers including cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis, or anus. It can also cause cancer in the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils (called oropharyngeal cancer).

How can HPV be prevented?

Practicing safe sex by properly using latex condoms greatly reduces, but does not completely eliminate, the risk of getting or spreading HPV. The only way to completely avoid infection is to not have anal, vaginal or oral sex.

Vaccines can protect against infection with HPV. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) develops recommendations regarding all vaccination in the United States, including HPV vaccination. The current ACIP recommendations for HPV vaccination are (5):

  • Children and adults ages 9 through 26 years. HPV vaccination is routinely recommended at age 11 or 12 years; vaccination can be started at age 9 years. HPV vaccination is recommended for all persons through age 26 years who were not adequately vaccinated earlier.
  • Adults ages 27 through 45 years. Although the HPV vaccine is Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved to be given through age 45 years, HPV vaccination is not recommended for all adults ages 27 through 45 years. Instead, ACIP recommends that clinicians consider discussing with their patients in this age group who were not adequately vaccinated earlier whether HPV vaccination is right for them. HPV vaccination in this age range provides less benefit because more people have already been exposed to the virus.
  • Persons who are pregnant. HPV vaccination should be delayed until after pregnancy, but pregnancy testing is not required before vaccination. There is no evidence that vaccination will affect a pregnancy or harm a fetus.

Care Resource is committed to providing quality medical care to all those who are under-resourced and face barriers to care. Our medical services include routine adult and pediatric health maintenance visits, neurology and podiatry, physical examinations, immunizations, wellness screenings, nutrition consultations, chronic disease management, and patient education.

Care Resource also specializes in women’s health care which includes health education, routine Pap smears and follow up, breast cancer screenings and referrals for colonoscopy. Regular and specialized obstetrical care will be provided through referrals.

For media inquiries, please contact Jonathan Welsh, Associate Director of Communications and Development at jwelsh@careresource.org.

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