What exactly is HPV?
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a type of virus that is different from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and herpes virus (HSV). It is the most common cause of sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the United States. HPV infects about 14 million people, including teens, each year in the United States.
HPV is not a single type of virus, rather it is a group of many viruses characterized by the typical type of warts (papillomas) that they cause. Papillomas are small growths or lumps that have outward nipple-like or finger-like fronds. Most HPV infections may go away without causing any health problems. Some HPV infections can cause genital warts and cancers such as cervical cancer (cancer of the mouth of the womb), cancer of the throat and tonsils and cancer of the anus or penis. The type of HPV that causes warts does not cause cancers.
Can a woman give a man HPV?
Yes, human papillomavirus (HPV) can be transmitted from a woman to man and vice versa. HPV can affect anybody who has sex with an infected person. This disease can easily spread through all kinds of sexual activities including anal, oral or vaginal sex or through other forms of close skin-to-skin contact during sex. The infection can also spread when the infected person has no visible signs or symptoms of the disease.
Is the HPV vaccine safe for men?
The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is a safe, effective and long-lasting preventive measure for both men and women. Most people who get the HPV vaccine do not experience any side effects. Some may experience mild side effects such as a sore arm from the shot.
Usually, the side effects of the HPV vaccine are mild and include the following
- Pain, redness or swelling in the arm where the shot was given
- Muscle or joint pain
It is advised to sit or lie down during vaccination and stay in that position for about 15 minutes after getting the shot to help prevent fainting episodes that a few people may have. On extremely rare occasions, severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) may occur after vaccination. You must discuss with your doctor in case you have a history of convulsions or reactions to any vaccine administered previously.
How likely am I to get HPV?
Most sexually active people who do not get vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV) get infected with the virus at some point in their lives. Around 79 million people in the United States, most in their late teens and early 20s, are infected with HPV. Getting vaccinated is the safest and surest protection against HPV and related complications including cancer. Experts recommend HPV vaccination for all preteens (girls and boys) aged 11 to 12 years (it can start at 9 years, too). This is to protect them from HPV infections that can cause cancer later in life. Teens and young adults through 26 years of age who did not start or finish the vaccine doses also need HPV vaccination.
People can also lower their risk of HPV infection by using latex condoms every time during sex. Using condoms may not fully protect against HPV because it can infect areas not covered by a condom. Being in a mutually monogamous relationship can lower the chances of being infected with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) including HPV.
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