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Don’t LOL About HPV

Published: October 8, 2015

Having sex can put you at risk for several STDs, including HPV. Yikes! HPV (human papillomavirus) is the most common sexually transmitted virus.

Did you know that currently 79 million men and women have HPV? It is important to know all of the facts about HPV so that you can protect yourself, and your partner, from getting it.

So, what does HPV do?

There are over 40 strains of HPV spread by sexual contact. Some strains of HPV can lead to  cervical, anal, throat, mouth and other cancers. Some strains of HPV cause genital and anal warts to both boys and girls. It is even possible to have HPV for a couple of years before warts show up.

How can I get HPV?

HPV is spread by intimate skin to skin contact.  Sexual penetration is not necessary to spread the virus.  HPV is very common.  Most people who have sex will be exposed to the virus at some point in their lives.   

Okay, how can I protect myself from getting HPV?

The best way to protect yourself, other than life-long abstinence, is to get vaccinated. HPV vaccines are safe both safe and effective. Although needles are not fun, HPV is even worse! Doctors recommended the vaccine for boys and girls age 11-12.  It is important for young people to get the HPV vaccine well before they have sex to avoid the risk of cancer later in life.  Catch-up vaccines can be given to boys up to age 21 and girls to age 26. The HPV vaccine is a series of three shots.  Any time you visit the doctor, health department or pharmacy is an opportunity to get vaccinated,  HPV vaccine is covered by most insurance, and several programs can help the uninsured get free vaccines.

Call 865-215-5070 to make a vaccine appointment at the Knox County Health Department.

Remember, having sex is a major decision. You should always consider all of the consequences before you get intimate with your partner. The only 100% way to protect yourself from the consequences of sex is abstinence.  If you are having sex, be responsible and always use protection. Using a condom is one way to protect yourself from HPV; however, that does not mean it is 100% effective.

What do I do if I already have HPV?

Although you can’t get rid of HPV, you can clear up some of its side effects. Genital warts can be treated by your physician. The doctor can check for signs of cancer during your regular annual exam.  Women should get Pap tests when recommended. Early cancer detection can save lives. It is important to always talk to your doctor immediately should you notice anything unusual with your body. 


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Real Talk:
Get Vaccinated

Getting routine shots from your doctor is never fun, but getting HPV is worse.

Protect yourself by getting vaccinated. The HPV Vaccine is cancer prevention. Ask your doctor about what you can do to stay safe, or call 865-215-5000 to schedule a vaccination appointment at the Health Department.