The weather is still oh-so cold outside. That makes me want to go inside and get warm and cuddly, if ya catch my drift, wink, wink.
What's that you say? HPV you say? Is that the new lol or brb? Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with texting. HPV stands for Human Papillomavirus, which is a nasty and sneaky little devil! HPV is one of the main causes of cervical cancer (PS: Did you know January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month?). Here's what's up:
- This virus can cause not only genital warts, but also cervical and other types of cancer. You can prevent cervical cancer by getting routine Pap tests.
- Sadly, an approximate 75% of new cases are from 15-24 year olds.
- Some people don't even know if they have it because they don't have symptoms (This is evem more dangerous because they are even more likely to pass it on).
- You can get it from any sort of genital contact -- not just sex.
So that's the bad news, but here's the good. We are so lucky to have a vaccine that protects against several of the worst strains of HPV (there are over 100 strains!). The thing is, the more people you have had sex with, the less effective the vaccine will be when you get it. It's actually best to get it way before you ever start having sex. Many people get the vaccine as young as 9, so talk to your parents and your doctor if you want to get the vaccine. If you're still not comfortable talking to your parents about it, don't worry; you can still get the vaccine without having to tell anyone.
If you haven't gotten the HPV vaccine yet and are sexually active, the best way to prevent getting HPV is, of course, by using condoms. Remember that condoms not only prevent unwanted pregnancy, but all other STDs too. For HPV, this is not fool proof, as you can still get HPV from oral and other sexual activities, but it still makes a huge difference! There is nothing currently that will 100% protect you from HPV except from abstaining from sexual contact, so that may be starting to look like a really attractive option. On second thought, I think I'm good on the cuddling.