Sexually transmitted diseases are a serious problem, and the most common one that everyone talks/warns about is AIDS. I’m sure your sex ed class at school really liked to talk about AIDS and how to prevent it, but what many people don’t realize is that there’s an STD that’s really easy to contract and that virus is HPV.
HPV stands for “human papillomavirus”, and according to WebMD, “These sexually-transmitted HPV viruses are spread through contact with infected genital skin, mucous membranes, or bodily fluids, and can be passed through intercourse and oral sex. HPV can infect skin not normally covered by a condom, so using a condom does not fully protect someone from the virus”.
Getting infected with HPV is no small deal, as it leads to these horrifying warts appearing on your skin. At any time, around 80 million people in the US are infected with this virus, and around three out of four sexually active people between the age of 15 and 49 have been infected with HPV at some point in their lives. Also according to WebMD, you are the most likely to get HPV if you have intercourse at an early age, have many sex partners or your sex partners has had many partners before you.
The highest percentage of women infected with the disease (45%) have been diagnosed at ages 14 to 19, which proves the point that most infections happen if you’re sexually active at a very young age.
Unlike AIDS, however, the body is actually able to heal itself from the infection. In most cases, there are no visible symptoms and around 90% of women who were infected showed no signs of being infected after a couple of years.
However, if you get infected with high-risk HPV, especially 16 and 18, you’re basically screwed as those two particular types cause around 70% of cervical cancer infections in the US.
The best way to avoid getting infected is abstaining from sex, reducing your number of sex partners and getting a vaccine. Currently, there are three types of HPV vaccine: Cervarix, Gardasil and Gardasil-9.