About HPV

What is HPV?

Transmitted primarily by sexual contact, human papillomavirus (HPV) usually causes no harm. However, it can cause abnormal cell changes in the cervix that can gradually result in cancer. These abnormal cells must be detected and treated to prevent cancer.

Does HPV have symptoms?

No. That’s why regular Pap tests are so important.

How do women get HPV?

HPV is transmitted during skin-to-skin contact with the genital area, including vaginal, oral or anal sex.

At what age are women most likely to become infected?

CDC researchers estimate that teens and women up to age 25, when compared to women in other age groups, have the highest risk of HPV infection. Of the 6 million new cases of HPV each year in the United States, 74 percent occur among 15-24 year-olds. Right now, about 45 percent of young women aged between 20 and 24 have HPV infections because they haven’t had the benefit of the vaccine. Experts believe the percentage of young women with HPV infections can be significantly reduced with the vaccine.

How can a woman avoid getting HPV?

The cervical cancer vaccine can prevent HPV. It works best in women who may have not yet become sexually active because they have not yet been exposed to HPV. Women also can decrease the chance of getting HPV by abstaining from sex or by using condoms during sex; however, condoms cannot fully prevent HPV infection.

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