The human papillomavirus (HPV) is nicknamed the “common cold of STDs”.
Why? Because if you're a sexually active adult, you've probably contracted several of the 100 different types out there. More than 30 of which are sexually transmitted.
And you probably had no idea!
While a new vaccine promises to make viruses more scarce in the future, HPV is still the number one cause of cervical cancer.
Read on for three quick tips on how to help protect yourself against this common cancer.
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Three tips to help protect yourself from HPV and cervical cancer
Tip #1: Make time for a pap smear once a year
“HPV really is harmless to the vast majority of people,” clinical professor of medicine H. Handsfield from the University of Washington says. “It’s like having a staph or strep on our skins,” he adds.
Handsfield explains that HPV is universal, unavoidable and usually not harmful. However, there are several strains that can lead to cervical cancer. To avoid this, ensure you have a pap smear once a year to screen for cancer markers.
Tip #2: If you make the cut, get the Gardasil vaccine!
Introduced in 2006, Gardasil is a highly effective HPV vaccine. It protects women against two strains of the virus that cause cancer. It also helps fight genital warts.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that women get vaccinated before they become sexually active. However, women aged 9 to 26 are approved to get the vaccine. If you’re 26 or younger and haven’t caught the virus yet, you can look into this option.
Tip #3: Always use condoms
Condoms (or other latex barriers) can help prevent HPV infection. However, they’re not complete effective. The virus can be present on areas of the skin that condoms don’t cover. The next best prevention is abstinence.
[you need to end with a takeaway – something like. Cervical cancer kills eight South African women every day. With these tips, preventing it is as easy as one-two-three.
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