The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States, that those who are sexually active have acquired this at least once in their lifetime. However, it can be prevented by getting a vaccine early in life.

The Virus

HPV is different from HIV or HSV (herpes), but it still can give a person some serious health problems such as genital warts of varied sizes and different kinds of cancer.

It can be transmitted from one person to another through vaginal, anal, or oral sex. It can even be passed even if a person does not show any signs of the virus, or between those who have one sexual partner.

There is no test available to detect whether a person has HPV until there are genital warts or cancer. For women who already have cancer, the presence of HPV can be determined through cervical cancer test and pap smear. However, the cancer test is for women who are 30 years old and above.

HPV can go away on its own, but in some cases the person already has serious health problems, that doctors can only address the sickness and not the virus.

HPV Prevention

People can prevent being infected by HPV through early vaccinations. Getting vaccinated is also a way of preventing cancer and genital warts.

In both men and women, HPV vaccines can prevent genital warts, mouth and throat cancer. Specifically, men can avoid getting penile and anal cancer, while women can get protection from cervical and vaginal cancer.

As an early preventive measure, preteens boys and girls, or those who are at least 11 years old can already get the HPV vaccine.

Women who did not get HPV vaccine in their teens can have the shots until the age of 26, while men can do so until 21 years old. For men with a compromised immune system, or if he had sex with another man, can have the vaccine until the age of 26.

This HPV vaccine is given in a series of three shots. The second shot will be given with a two-month leeway from the initial shot and the third shot should be injected four months after the second shot.

HPV vaccine does not post serious side effects, but one can temporarily experience dizziness, nausea and fever. It is advised that the person who just had the vaccine must sit or lie for at least 15 minutes to prevent fainting and any further accidents.

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