If You Like It You Should Put a Needle in It

As a child, like so many other kids, I abhorred needles. However, I’m the only kid I know who struggled against a nurse so belligerently that my family ended up sending her flowers later that week. She didn’t even give me the shot; they gave up after I kicked her.

            I’m a bit older now and consequently have had a lot more run-ins with needles. In fact, we’re almost friends now (as long as I stare at the ceiling when I’m pricked). It’s a good thing too, as Stetson requires its students to have proof of receiving the measles, hepatitis B, and meningitis shots. However, they don’t require men or women to have received the HPV vaccine.

The Gardasil shot, more commonly known as the HPV vaccine, comes in three stages and prevents the receiver from contracting the human papilloma virus. As you probably learned in you high school health science class or from the “birds and the bees talk” your parents gave you, HPV is sexually transmitted, and not just by going all the way. It can also be transmitted via oral or anal sex. Now, here’s the kicker: HPV causes cervical cancer.

            That’s not a word any of us like to hear. Studies have shown that two strains of the virus in particular, HPV 16 and HPV 18, are the sources for approximately seventy percent of total cervical cancer patients.

            Those two strains of HPV are prevented by the vaccine.

            This is a big deal, especially considering that the American Cancer Society estimates that 12,820 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed will cervical cancer this year. HPV can also be a source of oral and throat cancer. That means men are affected by the virus too, and is part of the reason some health professionals are now pushing for men to receive the vaccine, too.

            Whatever your relationship status on Facebook looks like, this vaccine is something you should stop and consider. You may not be sexually active at all and may not plan to be in the near future, but don’t tune this information out. You have the chance to actively protect yourself.

            The vaccine is broken up into three parts. After you receive the first, allow two months to pass before going in for your second, and then wait another four months before going in for your final shot. Most health departments offer the vaccine for free and the national Vaccines for Children Program allows anyone eighteen or younger to receive it with no cost. Just think about how much people pay for acupuncture when this won’t even put a dent in your wallet!

            Don’t leave your personal health on a back burner before it’s too late to fix. All of us should take the steps needed in order to pave a safer future for ourselves and our future partners.