According to hpv.com, every year in the United States, there are ~14 million new HPV infections. About 50% of them are in 15- to 24-year-olds. That’s about 19,000 teens and young adults each day. For most people, HPV clears on its own. But, for others who don’t clear the virus, it could cause certain cancers and other diseases.
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But what is it? Who can get it? Is there a test to know if you have it? If the result comes out positive, is it going to be there forever? How will it affect you? Can you prevent it?
Lets answer each on of these 6 questions.
What is HPV? It is a very common virus that affects a lot of people. In fact, most people will be infected with HPV at some point in their lives. But as mentioned above, for most people it will clear on its own. For others, it can cause warts on hands or feet, or even infect the genital area. And if the virus remain present for many years, it can cause cervical cancer.
Who can get it? Both men and women that are sexually active. It is considered an STD and even though its not transmitted through body fluids, it is a skin-to-skin contact virus and can affect anyone who is or has ever been sexually active. This skin-to skin of course includes regular intercourse, oral sex and anal sex.
Is there an HPV test? Yes, there is. In fact, is very similar to the PAP test. They collect cervical cells by using a small brush, and then they send the sample to the laboratory. This type of test can identify high risk types of HPV that are most commonly related to cervical cancer.
If I have it, will it be there forever? Everybody is different, so there is no right answer to this question, but for the most people, it will clear on its own within 1-2 years.
How will it affect you? If you do have it, do not be scared. I cannot stress enough the importance of the fact that a lot of people are affected by it and they never even find out, so if you know, you have the upper hand. Even though HPV is found in cervical cancer, it doesn’t mean that you will be at risk. If your test comes out positive but your PAP comes out normal, all it means is that you have the HPV, but is not altering your cervical cells, which means it can go away, you just need to monitor any changes.
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Can you prevent it? For starters, there are three different vaccines on the market. So if you are interested in getting vaccinated, speak to your doctor and find out if vaccination is appropriate for you. Other way of protecting yourself from HPV is abstinence (OMG). The use of condom and limiting your number of partners can help, but it doesn’t prevent you completely from HPV. So the best thing you can do is to be very diligent with your PAP tests and have an overall healthy lifestyle.
Now that you know the basics of HPV, don’t be scared, take precautions and live your life.
*Some of this information was taken from medicalnewstoday.com and ashasexualheath.org