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Beacon of HOPE Wellness Committee: What is HPV?

June 20, 2018
By Caryle Regan, RN (Special to the Eagle) , Pine Island Eagle

According to the Center for Disease Control, HPV is a group of more than 150 related viruses. Some types can cause warts, and others can cause cancers. Men can get penile HPV cancer. In women, HPV can cause cervical, vaginal or vulvar cancers. Both men and women can get mouth, throat and rectal cancers caused by HPV. The good news is that there are vaccines that can prevent the most commonly caused HPV infections.

The CDC states that HPV is so common that nearly all men and women will get it at some point in their lifetime. HPV is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that is spread by intimate skin to skin contact orally, anally or vaginally. It can present as genital warts. These are small bumps or group of bumps sometimes shaped like a cauliflower. However, most people have no signs or symptoms of HPV and don't know that they have it. They can still pass it on to another person. Like other cancers, HPV may not show any symptoms until quite advanced, very serious and hard to treat. This is why regular cervical cancer screenings are so important. It can be effectively treated if caught in its early stages. The good news is that HPV, in most cases, goes away on its own and does not usually cause health problems.

Who should get the HPV vaccine?

The CDC recommends that the vaccine be given to girls and boys ages 11-12 years old. It can be given to children as young as 9 years old. It is administered in a two-dose series for teens 15 and younger. For teens and young adults, ages 15 to 26 for females and 15 to 21 for males, the CDC recommends a three-dose series. The doses should be administered 6-12 months apart. It is recommended that for the HPV vaccine to be its most effective, it should be given prior to exposure to the HPV virus. In other words, it should be given before teens become sexually active.

Since cervical cancer is at this time the only HPV cancer for which screening protocols have been developed it is extremely important to get the vaccine to prevent HPV.

This information comes from the CDC website.

The Beacon of HOPE can be reached at 239-283-5123 or email or visit It is located at 5090 Doug Taylor Circle in St. James City.



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