Ask-A-Doc, September

Posted 10/07/19 (Mon)

Understanding HPV: Risks and How to Protect Yourself

Answer from  Dr. Joan Connell

Q: What exactly is HPV?

A: Human Papilloma Viruses (HPVs) are a group of more than 200 related viruses, some of which can cause cancer. It is the most common sexually transmitted infection.

There are more than 40 HPV types can be easily spread through direct sexual contact, from the skin and mucous membranes of infected people to the skin and mucous membranes of their partners. 

However, there are only a few HPV strains that are responsible for causing cancer.  HPV can cause cancer affecting the following body parts: cervix, anus, mouth, tongue, throat, vagina, vulva, and penis.  In the United States, HPV causes 3% of all cancer cases in women and 2% of all cancer cases in men. 

The HPV vaccine is a safe way to prevent cancer in men and women.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends HPV vaccine for all girls and boys when they are 11 or 12 years old and requires only 2 doses when initiated by age 13 years of age. 

The vaccine is safe! The most commonly reported side effects include soreness at the injection site, dizziness, fainting, headache, and nausea.  

For more information about HPV, please visit


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