What is Human papilloma virus?
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a group of more than 200 viruses that can cause warts and certain types of cancer. HPV is a common virus spread through direct sexual contact, most people are infected with the virus shortly after they become sexually active. HPV is commonly associated with cervical cancer, but it also plays a role in anal, vaginal, vulvar, penile, and oropharyngeal cancer (NIH). According to the CDC, 9 out of 10 infections go away within 2 years. Some HPV infections can stay dormant within the body for years and even cause cancer.
Prevention and Screening
HPV vaccinations are recommended for all people aged 11-26. Most doctors begin recommending the vaccine for children aged 11 or 12 as early vaccinations reduce the risk of virus exposure and thus the development of cancer later in life (CDC). At this time there are two different cervical cancer screenings: Pap smear and HPV test. During a pap smear, cells are collected from the cervix to test for cervical cancer. Pap smears are recommended every 3 years for women aged 21-29. An HPV test is a high risk HPV test usually recommended if pap smear results are abnormal or the patient is age 30 or older (NIH).
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-Written by Sabrina Park MPH