By CHANTAL ALBA
Hey guys! So it’s time to drop some knowledge on you for your sexual health. I’m going to be telling you guys about HPV, otherwise known as the human papillomavirus. HPV is the most commonly sexually transmitted infection (STI).
How common do you ask? Well, so common that nearly half the people who are sexually active will contract the virus at least once during some point of their lifetime. There are different types of HPV too, some cause warts and others can cause cancer. That is why it is so important to get vaccinated.
HPV is spread when you have vaginal, oral or anal sex with someone who has the virus. Sometimes, when a person is infected with the virus, they may not even realize it because they can show no symptoms and may not even show symptoms until years later.
Typically HPV goes away on its own and doesn’t cause any health problems. However, if the virus doesn’t go away, it can cause genital warts or cancer. If you have the virus that causes warts, you experience things like a small bump or a group of bumps, that can be small or large, raised or flat, or cauliflower shaped in your genital area. If you have the type that causes cancer, then you are at risk of getting cervical cancer, cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis, or anus, and oropharyngeal cancer (cancer in the back of throat, base of tongue or tonsils).
It’s a pretty scary virus to think about ever having, especially since most people will have it in their lives. But there are ways to prevent yourself from being a statistic. Make sure you get vaccinated, if you aren’t vaccinated yet.
You usually receive the vaccination around 11-12 years old, but there are “catch-up” vaccines available for women under the age of 27. Currently there is no test that can determine if you have the virus or not. So most people do not know they have it, until they have warts and, for women, if they have an abnormal Pap test result.
So If you are sexually active, make sure you are using a condom, the right way, every single time you have sex because it can lower your chances of getting the virus.