HPV—or human papillomavirus—is an infection that causes warts on different parts of the body. There are over 200 different types of human papillomaviruses. Approximately 40 of these viruses affect the genital area. They can even lead to certain types of cancer in both women and men. Here are answers to some of the most important questions concerning HPV. Speak with your OBGYN in Jacksonville, FL to learn more about HPV and prevention.
Are HPV infections common?
HPV infections are extremely common. In fact, they are the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. Over 80 million Americans are infected with some type of human papillomavirus, and some may not even be aware. This makes the spread of HPV difficult to control. There are close to 14 million new infections per year in the US alone.
How do you get HPV?
HPV is spread through sexual contact, most commonly through vaginal or anal sex. It is also possible to contract the infection through oral sex and other forms of intimate contact. HPV is not known to be spread by toilet seats or other surfaces you come in contact with.
Can HPV be spread if you don’t have any signs or symptoms?
Yes. Human papillomavirus infections can be passed on even if you or your partner show no signs or symptoms. Unfortunately, many people aren’t even aware that they have HPV when they pass it on to their sexual partner.
How do I know if I have an HPV infection?
You may or may not have genital warts. Warts can be a single bump or group of bumps in the genital area. Your OBGYN in Jacksonville, FL can usually diagnose these through an exam. They can also include an HPV test at the same time as your routine Pap. The HPV test will check specifically for the virus with a swab. When done together with your routine Pap it’s called co-testing, and it’s the best way to detect early signs of cervical cancers.
How serious is an HPV infection?
It depends. Many people who have HPV never experience any signs or complications, and the infection eventually clears up over time. But some cases of HPV do not go away as quickly, and the infection remains in the body for a longer period of time. HPV can lead to serious complications in these cases—including certain forms of cancer. For women, cancers of the cervix, vagina and vulva are a risk. In men, penile cancer is possible. Additionally, anal, oral and throat cancer are a risk for both men and women.
What is the HPV Vaccine and does it help prevent cancer?
The HPV vaccine protects you against becoming infected with human papillomaviruses, protecting you from the types of cancer these viruses cause. Gardasil is the FDA-approved vaccine that prevents the types of HPV that cause cancer. The vaccine is highly effective and should ideally be administered before a person becomes sexually active. The CDC currently recommends that the following people receive the HPV vaccine:
- All children aged 11-12
- Young women up to age 26
- Young men up to age 21
- Homosexual or bisexual men through age 26
- Young adults who are immunocompromised up to age 26
Speak with your physician or OBGYN in Jacksonville, FL about whether or not you should receive the HPV vaccine.
Trusted OBGYN in Jacksonville, FL
For more information about HPV, Gardasil or to schedule a screening, please contact your healthcare provider at North Florida OBGYN of Jacksonville.