HPV. What you should know…
There are more than 200 types of human papillomavirus (HPV) that cause infections of the skin and mucosa. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the US.
Most HPV infections are transient, some lead to warts or cancer.
The most common subtypes of HPV that cause cancer are HPV16 and 18.
What types of cancers are HPV-related? Anal, cervical, oropharyngeal (mouth and throat), penile, vaginal and vulvar cancers.
What increases the risk of HPV infections? Multiple sexual partners. Initiation of sexual activity at an early age. Not using condoms. Other STDs (including HIV). An immunocompromised state. Alcohol use. Smoking.
How to avoid HPV? Use condoms or dental dams. Get the HPV vaccine.
Details about the HPV vaccine. It is ideally administered at 11 or 12 years of age (irrespective of gender of the patient). If first HPV vaccine given before age 15 it is a series of 2 vaccines. If started at 15 or after, then it is 3 vaccines. The HPV vaccine is approved through age 45. HPV vaccination of people older than 26 may not be covered by insurance.
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