LGBT and HPV- What about me?
What’s going on?
The HPV vaccination is a big deal these days. This vaccine works to prevent the most common forms of the human papilloma virus which can cause cervical cancer, throat cancer, anal cancer, and genital warts. The HPV vaccine is super effective! Not only does it prevent cervical pre-cancer and genital warts close to 100% of the time, it reduces the risk of HPV-related cancers in the mouth, penis, and anus. This is really important because HPV is spread through skin-to-skin contact. So while using condoms helps bring down the risk of getting the virus, they don’t completely protect you.
Many LGBTQ teens don’t realize that they need the same preventive vaccination that cisgender or straight teens need. That’s because HPV mostly comes up in conversations about straight relationships between cisgender people. So it’s easy for LGBTQ people to think that this issue doesn’t apply to them.
Who needs to know?
Girls who date girls, guys who date guys, and transgender teens of all orientations are at risk for getting HPV. If you aren’t already vaccinated you can still talk to your health care provider about getting the vaccination done as soon as possible. You can get it up to age 26 but it is more effective the sooner someone gets it. It is a series of two or three shots that you need to complete to make sure you’re protected.
Lesbian, straight, and bisexual girls- and anyone with a cervix!
Basically anyone with a cervix (lesbian, bisexual, queer girls, straight girls, or any girl who dates other girls) has an equal risk for getting HPV. However, LGBQ women are way less likely to get regular screenings for cervical cancer, AKA a Pap test. That means that LGBQ women are getting less treatment when they do have abnormal cells on their cervix. While you don’t need a Pap test until you are 21, getting vaccinated against HPV is a great proactive step to improve your health now!
Gay, straight, and bisexual men- and anyone with a penis!
Doctors have not figured out a test for HPV on the penis, so it can be easy to see why many cisgender gay, queer, bisexual, and other guys who date guys don’t realize that HPV vaccination is important for their health, too. HPV can actually cause anal cancer, penile cancer, and oral cancer. Guys who have anal sex are at especially high risk for HPV infection to cause anal cancer. 65% of men who have anal sex with men get an anal HPV infection. Older men can get anal Pap tests to screen for HPV infection, but you can protect your health now by getting vaccinated.
Transgender teens also benefit from HPV vaccination! Many trans teens don’t get enough medical care because of discrimination, but transgender teens have a right to quality health care just like everyone else. There are resources to help you find supportive medical care. No matter your gender identity, take care of your health with the HPV vaccination and remember, anyone who has a cervix ashould get a pap test after age 21.
Own your health now.
Find a clinic here to talk with a health care provider about getting vaccinated- it’s confidential and often free! Protect yourself by getting vaccinated and using condoms!