Cervical Cancer Sexual Health

HPV: Just the Facts

What don’t you know about this common STI?

  • HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection. It is so common that nearly all sexually active people get it at some point in their lives.
  • There are more than 40 types of HPV. Potential health problems caused by some types of HPV include genital warts and cervical, anal and throat cancers.
  • HPV is easily spread by skin-to-skin contact, so keep in mind that condoms might not provide total protection, though they can help reduce the risk of contracting HPV.
  • Most infections go away on their own before people even realize they’re infected.
  • Women 30 and older are at the highest risk for developing complications from HPV. African-American women are 1.5 times more likely to test positive for high-risk HPV results. We are also 40 percent more likely to develop cervical cancer and 20 percent more likely to die from it compared to white women.
  • If abnormal cells caused by HPV are found while in a precancerous stage during a regular Pap test, they can be treated before they progress to cancer. But in some studies, it took nearly 6 months longer for African-American patients to be clear of HPV than their white counterparts.
  • Getting the HPV vaccine (recommended for by both the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics for both girls and boys at age 11 or 12, before they are sexually active) can protect against the two types of HPV that cause 70 percent of all cases of cervical cancer.
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