Today, March 4th, is HPV Awareness Day. HPV, or the Human Papillomavirus is the most common sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the United States. There are over 150 “strains” or types of HPV -- some go away on their own, others can give you genital warts, and some even cause cancer.
Anyone of any gender can get HPV. If you are person with a uterus, there’s a test to find out if you have HPV, but that test can’t tell if you have genital warts or cancer. You need to have a PAP test to detect abnormal cells or cancer. There is no HPV test for people with a penis.
The best way to protect yourself from HPV is to get vaccinated. Learn more about the HPV Vaccine:
Who Should Get Vaccinated?
Anyone under the age of 26 should get the vaccine, but it is best to get it as soon as possible. It is recommended that all young people age 11 or 12 get a series of two-shots of the vaccine to help protect them from HPV and certain cancers that can develop from the virus in the future. It is recommended that people 15 and older receive a series of three shots of the HPV vaccine. It is possible you were vaccinated in Middle School, but if not or if you only got one dose, it’s ok! REMEMBER: Even if you are not having sex, it’s important that you get the HPV vaccine so you are protected against cancer in the future.
How Do I Get Vaccinated?
To get the HPV vaccine, you can visit a clinic near you or visit your doctor. Your provider will help you schedule when to come back for your follow-up doses. It’s important to complete the full series of shots recommended for your age group in order to be fully protected.
How Much Does the Vaccine Cost?
For most teens, the HPV vaccine will be FREE! All health insurance plans are required to cover it, and if you are uninsured or unable to pay for the vaccine, there are programs to help you. When you arrive at the clinic, ask them about
Do I Need My Parent’s Permission?
No, you don’t need your parent’s permission to receive the HPV vaccine. The HPV vaccine is considered a confidential, or private service. This means that teens in California can consent to getting the vaccine on their own.
However, if you can talk to a parent or other trusted adult about your health, it could be helpful to remind them and/or share information with them about the benefits of the HPV vaccine, including the potential of the vaccine to prevent cancer. A good time to get the HPV vaccine is at your next checkup or physical, and your parents or care-givers can help make that happen.
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, other STDs and prevent pregnancy. Find free condoms near you!
Celebrate HPV awareness today by making an appointment to get the HPV vaccine at a clinic near you!