The HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine has gained widespread attention over the past few years. It may be brought up at your pre-teen son or daughter’s next check-up, or it could be required for a job placement. Although it may seem like a vaccine that isn’t as important as, say, hepatitis (especially if you are male), the HPV vaccine is integral to the sexual and reproductive health of both men and women.
The original focus of the HPV vaccine was aimed at preventing cervical cancer. However, the vaccine actually protects against many type of cancers that can affect both men and women. The HPV vaccine has been proven to help prevent cervical, anal, vulvar, vaginal, penile, and oropharyngeal cancers. It also helps protect against genital warts for both men and women.
The HPV vaccine is recommended for boys and girls around the ages of 11 and 12. This gives the vaccine time to establish itself in the body before they become sexually active. If you are past that age range or are sexually active, that doesn’t mean the chance to be vaccinated has passed. The HPV vaccine can be given to men and women between the ages of 11 and 26.
This vaccine is recommended for all persons that qualify in age, regardless of sexual orientation. HPV is a common virus and can be spread through genital contact and skin-to-mouth contact, not just through sexual intercourse. A person can spread HPV even if they show no signs or symptoms. Over 70 million people in the United States are infected with some form of HPV. Over 20,000 cancers caused by HPV could have been prevented by being vaccinated.
Ask your provider for more information about the HPV vaccine and how it could benefit you or your child.