HPV, or the Human Papillomavirus is the most common sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the United States. There are over 150 strains of HPV -- some go away on their own, others can cause genital warts, and some even cause cancer in males and females in the mouth and genitals. There is no HPV test for men but people with a uterus can get a pap smear to detect abnormal cells that might lead to cancer and there is a test for the HPV virus that is approved for women.
The best way to protect yourself from HPV, and the cancers HPV can cause, is to get vaccinated.
Learn more about the HPV Vaccine:
Who Should Get Vaccinated?
It is recommended that all young people at age 11 or 12 get two doses of the HPV vaccine. It is possible you were vaccinated in Middle School, but if you were not or if you only got one dose, it’s ok! People who get the vaccine at 15 or older should receive three doses based on clinical guidelines. REMEMBER: Even if you are not having sex now, it’s important that you get the HPV vaccine so you are protected in the future.
How Do I Get Vaccinated?
For most teens, the HPV vaccine will be FREE! It is covered under most insurance, and if you are uninsured or unable to pay for the vaccine, there are programs to help you through the maker of the vaccine and through some clinics. In order to start your HPV vaccine series, visit a clinic near you or visit your doctor. Your doctor will tell you when to come back for your next doses to be fully vaccinated and protected.
Do I Need My Parent’s Permission?
No, youth in California don’t need their parent’s permission to get the HPV vaccine. It is considered a confidential, or private service. This means that teens can get the vaccine without their parents’ permission, or without their parents being notified, but it’s always helpful to talk to your parents or another trusted adult about your health if and whenever possible.
What Else Can I Do to Protect Against HPV?
Abstinence (not having sex) is the best way to protect against all STDs including HPV. If you do choose to have sex, even if you have received the HPV vaccine, using a condom can help protect against HPV and prevent pregnancy. Find free condoms near you!