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Why is HPV So Common?

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You haven't done anything wrong if you get HPV.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) there is. In fact, in 2018, there were about 48 million infections among people in their teens and early 20s. So don’t blame yourself if you’ve received an HPV diagnosis. Many other people have been there, and anyone who has sex can get it. You haven’t done anything wrong.

But, why is it so common? Why do so many people have it, or have had it? Let’s talk about it! For answers to your specific questions about HPV and birth control, make an appointment to talk to a provider at your nearest The Right Time health center.

One reason HPV is so common is because it spreads through skin-to-skin contact, and sex involves a lot of that. You can get it if you have been intimate with someone in ways that do not involve any oral, vaginal, or anal penetration. Another reason is a person with HPV doesn’t always have symptoms, which means they don’t know they’re giving it to their partner(s) during sex.

Finally, it might be because there are so many different strains of HPV. These strains are divided up into low-risk and high-risk groups, based on how they affect the body. The low-risk groups are responsible for genital warts, and the high risk strains can cause cervical cancer. Because there are so many kinds of HPV, and because many folks have multiple partners throughout our lives, it’s more likely that you’ll get HPV at some point than it is for you to never get it at all.

So how can you protect yourself in the future? First, you can get the HPV vaccine. It is recommended for anyone between the ages of 9 and 45, and it protects against the two strains of HPV that cause most HPV-related cancers. Other ways are to use barrier methods (such as condoms and internal condoms), and to get Pap smears starting at 21.

If you’d like to learn more about how to protect yourself from HPV, STIs, and pregnancy, make an appointment to talk to your nearest The Right Time provider.

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