It’s the most common sexually transmitted infection and causes cancer, but what do you really know about HPV, the human papilloma virus?
We talk a lot about Chlamydia, gonorrhea and HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). Unfortunately, we’re not talking a lot about HPV.
Men are most often asymptomatic if they have an HPV infection, and they usually only find out about an infection after a partner has tested positive and informed them. Women, on the other hand, may have symptoms including genital warts. Vaccinations Crucial for Both Sexes
We have the ability to decrease the incidence of these cancers by vaccinating children and young adults prior to their being exposed to the HPV virus. It is critical that we vaccinate both boys and girls to help prevent them from having to deal with a devastating cancer diagnosis.
The majority of those exposed to the virus successfully fends it off and don’t develop cancer, but not everyone is so lucky. HPV does not discriminate against age, race, rich or poor, men or women.
Vaccine May Be Given Up to Age 27
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children receive three doses of the HPV vaccine by the time they become sexually active.
The vaccines are generally recommended for children age 11 to 12,
but what if you’ve reached adulthood and haven’t yet received them?
You may be eligible to receive the series of vaccinations up until 27 years of age!
Timetable for Pap Tests
Pap tests, the most common form of cervical cancer screening, are done as part of women’s gynecological care.
- A woman should have her first Pap test when she is 21.
- A pap smear, the screening test for cervical cancer, should be done every three years in women ages 21 to 29.
- After age 30, women need to have the pap smear only every three to five years, but co-testing a pap smear along with a specialized HPV test is suggested.
- All patients should have an annual gynecological exam—including a visual inspection of the cervix—and a pelvic exam yearly.
- There are a few different screening algorithms for cervical cancer. The ideal option is a Pap test with an HPV test every 5 years. An alternate approach is a screening pap every 3 years.
Depending on how the results come back, women may need additional testing or more frequent screening. If testing is normal they may continue on the same pap test schedule.
By Louise Donahue for Summit Medical Group
Get more information on sexual and reproductive health issues, download Frisky Mobile App Here