I knew that HPV was a “popular” STD, but I never realized just how widespread it was. According to health studies, HPV currently affects 1 in 4 women in the United States. 25% of women in the U.S. are currently living with the disease!
That statistic alone is staggering. What makes it even scarier, though, is the fact that two types of HPV can cause much more serious issues than simply having an STD: they can lead to cancer.
The problem with HPV, and the reason it affects as many people as it does, is that it oftentimes goes undetected. While many types are characterized by genital warts, many don’t have obvious symptoms, which leave the person without the slightest inkling that they are infected. Clearly, this proves the importance of getting tested regularly.
Unfortunately, though, many people don’t.
And since they don’t know they have it, they go around like nothing is wrong and, consequently, infect their partners. I don’t write this to be preachy. This is some scary shit and women need to know. I mean, I always knew STD’s were a problem, but I also always thought they were much less common than this.
There are ways for us to protect ourselves, though. The first and most obvious is by using condoms. Duh. The second, and a relatively new option, is to ask your doctor about the HPV vaccine. Doctors are now recommending this to all women ages 9 – 26. (Some states are even trying to make it a law!) The vaccine is a series of three shots that will protect you from contracting the two forms of HPV that lead to cervical cancer and the two forms of HPV that cause genital warts.
This is definitely something that all of us single women should look into; if not to protect others, then definitely to protect ourselves. And, since most insurance providers now cover the vaccine, you really have no reason not to. This, of course, is no excuse to forgo condoms – or even yearly STD tests – but it is the best option women have to protect themselves from this ever spreading disease.
For more information on the HPV vaccine, click here.