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The Human Papillomavirus is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). HPV is so common that nearly all sexually active men and women get it at some point in their lives. There are many different types of HPV. Some types of HPV can cause cervical and other cancers including cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis, or anus. It can also cause cancer in the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils (called oropharyngeal cancer).
Cancer often takes years, even decades, to develop after a person gets HPV. The types of HPV that can cause genital warts are not the same as the types of HPV that can cause cancers.
HPV vaccine prevents infection with human papillomavirus (HPV) types that are associated with many cancers, including:
In addition, HPV vaccine prevents infection with HPV types that cause genital warts in both females and males.
Preteens and teens need 2 doses of the HPV vaccine as part of their routine vaccine schedule. They get the second dose about 6 to 12 months after the first dose. Preteens usually get the HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12, though vaccination can start as early as age 9.
If you didn’t get the HPV vaccine as a preteen, you can still get it. Teens and young adults need 3 doses of the HPV vaccine. They need to get the second dose 1 to 2 months after the first dose - and the third dose 6 months after the first dose.
HPV vaccines offer the best protection to girls and boys who complete the series and have time to develop an immune response before they begin sexual activity with another person. This is not to say that your preteen is ready to have sex. In fact, it’s just the opposite - it’s important to get your child protected before you or your child have to think about this issue. The immune response to this vaccine is better in preteens, and this could mean better protection for your child.
HPV can cause cervical and other cancers including cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis, or anus. It can also cause cancer in the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils (called oropharyngeal cancer).
You can do several things to lower your chances of getting HPV.
Get vaccinated. The HPV vaccine is safe and effective. It can protect against diseases (including cancers) caused by HPV when given in the recommended age groups. Catch-up vaccines are recommended for boys and men through age 21 and for girls and women through age 26, if they did not get vaccinated when they were younger.
Many Cayuga County pediatricians and family health care providers offer the HPV vaccine to their patients. Ask your doctor about the vaccine and schedule an appointment.
The Cayuga County Health Department also offers the HPV vaccine. Please call us at 315-253-1560 for an appointment.
Protection from cancer is a great thing, and it starts with you!