There is no such thing as a bad time to focus on maintaining good reproductive health and wellness. In honor of Cervical Cancer Awareness Month and the recent International HPV Awareness Day (March 4th), we thought it would be an especially good time to educate our readers on HPV (Human papillomavirus). HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the US. It is the leading cause of cervical cancer and other Gynecologic cancers, including those of the vagina and vulva. HPV is also responsible for anal, oral, and laryngeal cancers, as well as genital warts.
Here are a few helpful statistics about HPV to consider. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV. The overwhelming majority of these cases occur in people between their late teens and early 20’s. Roughly 14 million people in the US become infected with HPV each year. HPV is transmitted through sexual intercourse, oral sex, kissing, and skin to skin contact. HPV infection can cause Pap smear abnormalities and/or genital warts. Those who are infected are typically asymptomatic and don’t realize they are passing the virus to their partner.
When it comes to HPV, the best course of treatment is prevention. HPV vaccinations can be administered to females and males between the ages of 9 and 26. It is estimated that the quadrivalent vaccine can prevent up to 70% of cervical cancer cases. Receiving an HPV vaccine can also help promote a more active immune response for preteens. In addition to being effective, HPV vaccinations are very safe and are not associated with any known serious side effects.
It’s important for women to remember that receiving an HPV vaccination is not a substitute for annual cervical cancer screenings. We still very highly recommend regular Pap testing as well. If you have questions about HPV or cervical cancer and would like to request an appointment with board-certified gynecologist Dr. Kristine Gould, please contact Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett today. And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for additional tips, news, updates, and details on our upcoming health and wellness events.