Teen STI Card—HPV

Think you can’t get HPV? Are you positive?

Every year, nearly 4 million American teenagers get an STD (sexually transmitted disease).1,2 If you’ve had sex, you could be infected with one or more STDs, including HPV.  Some STDs cause symptoms.  Others don’t.  You could have one now and not even know it.  Just because you didn’t know you’re infected doesn’t mean you’re not being affected.  Some STDs make you sick today and others cause problems later in life – serious problems like cancer or infertility.  So get your facts straight about HPV.

What is it?

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted viral infection that infects the skin and mucous membranes, including those in the genital area.

Who gets it?

Both men and women.

How do you get it?

HPV is transmitted two ways: by skin-to-skin contact and by contact with infected body fluids.  It is most often spread by sex play or sexual intercourse (vaginal, anal or oral sex).3,4,5

How will I know if I’m infected?

HPV is the most common viral STD.Some people with HPV have warts on (or in) their genitals, but most people with HPV don’t know they are infected.7 A Pap smear can detect HPV infection in women.  Infection with certain strains of HPV causes cervical cancer in women.  All sexually active women should have regular Pap smears so that cervical cancer and other problems caused by HPV can be recognized and treated.

What about treatment for HPV?

There is no cure for HPV.  Because more people don’t know they have HPV, they don’t seek medical treatment.  Warts caused by HPV can be treated, but treatment doesn’t guarantee the warts won’t return.  Abnormal Pap smears and cervical cancer can be treated, but successful treatment depends on finding those problems early.

What can I do to avoid being infected with HPV?

Abstinence from sexual intercourse is the only certain way to avoid being infected.  If you haven’t had sex, your chances of getting HPV are small.  Already had sex?  Get checked out – and next time, get your facts straight.

References:

American Social Health Association. Sexually Transmitted Diseases in America: How Many Cases and at What Cost? Menlo Park, CA: Kaiser Family Foundation, 1998. Available at: http://www.kff.org/womenshealth/1445-std_rep.cfm. Accessed 2008 Aug 20.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Healthy People 2010: Understanding and Improving Health. 2nd ed. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, November 2000. Available at: http://www.healthypeople.gov/document/html/volume2/25stds.htm#_ednref28. Accessed 2008 Aug 20.

Edwards S, Carne C. Oral sex and the transmission of viral STIs.Sex Transm Inf. 1998;74:6-10.

Syrjanen S. PL7 Oral viral infections that could be transmitted oro-genitally. Oral Dis. 2006;12 Suppl 1:2.

Winer RL, Koutsky LA. Genital human papillomavirus infection. In: Holmes KK, et al, eds. Sexually Transmitted Diseases. 4th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill; 2008:489-508.

Weinstock H, Berman S, Cates W Jr. Sexually transmitted diseases among American youth: Incidence and prevalence estimates, 2000. Perspect Sex Reprod Health. 2004;36(1):6-10.

Winer RL, Koutsky LA. Genital human papillomavirus infection. In: Holmes KK, et al, eds. Sexually Transmitted Diseases. 4th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill; 2008:489-508.