Unpacking the Facts of HPV:
One of the Most Common Viruses Among College Students
Most of us learned about common sexually transmitted infections during those awkward sexual education classes. You know the ones: you stare around the room, wondering who this stuff even applies to and why, out of all the things that they are covering, they are making us watch this birthing video when we haven’t even been instructed on how to put on a condom yet? Yeah, I’ve never been able to forget those birthing videos.
I still wonder about why they never ended up teaching us how to put on a condom, but I wonder even more as to why Human Papillomavirus, the most common sexually transmitted virus among males and females, was so overlooked. It irks me to think that I had never even heard about HPV until I was sitting at the doctor’s office at the age of thirteen, waiting to get a Gardasil vaccine. I remember thinking that I had no idea what this vaccine was for or what HPV even was.
I only understand today how important vaccines such as Cervarix and Gardasil are and how much HPV can alter men and women’s lives. I also realize, through curiosity and research, that although this vaccine is great, it does not prevent all strains of HPV and that there are many people who do not know very little about this virus. Because of this, I have generated a list of facts about Human Papillomavirus:
1. At least 50% of sexually active Americans will get infected with HPV at some point in their lives.
2. Most people who are infected with HPV are unaware that they carry it.
3. There are more than 40 types of HPV that can infect both men and women; Gardasil protects against 4.
4. Most people do not develop symptoms of HPV.
5. 90% of the time, the body will clear HPV out of its system naturally after about two years.
6. Sometimes, HPV can cause genital warts, warts in the throat (rarely), and cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancer.
7. The strains of HPV that causes genital warts are not the same as the ones that cause cancer.
8. Gardasil protects against 2 types of HPV that cause 75 % of cervical cancer cases and 2 types of HPV that cause 90% of genital warts cases.
9. Gardasil now protects men from most genital warts and anal cancer.
10. There is no way to screen men for HPV, but women can find out if they have abnormal cells that are caused by HPV by getting a Pap test.
Since there are so many strains of this virus, the most effective way to prevent Human Papilloma virus is to use a condom. HPV is most common among individuals that fall under our age bracket (college students), so it is important that we are aware of this virus and that we know what we can do to prevent it.