sex ed: HPV

I did not know about HPV until I was 15 years old. When I first heard of it, I thought it was something like shingles but for young people. Little did I know this was a virus that can be transmitted sexually. In school, I was never taught about HPV being a severe STI that can lead to cancer; I was only aware of chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV, etc. If I had known about HPV, I probably would have been a bit more careful in my late teens.

HPV is a virus that is often transmitted sexually and has many strains that can cause cancer. It can cause anal or oropharyngeal cancer in both men and women and cervical cancer in women. Luckily there is a vaccine available for teens and adults to get it. Read more about it on the Kaiser Family Foundation website.

Despite a vaccine being available, not all teens are vaccinated. As a matter of fact, only about half of the teens are vaccinated for the virus. In my experience, I was not vaccinated at first because of religious beliefs from my parents. They believed getting this vaccine would have made me a promiscuous teen. Little did my parents know that they were putting me at risk because I was going to be sexually active regardless of whether or not I got the vaccine. It was not until I turned 18 and went to college where I had the freedom to get vaccinated. Unfortunately, I am not the only person who probably experienced this.

For those who cannot get vaccinated and are at high risk, the best option is to use condoms when engaging in any type of sexual activity. It may not “feel good” when doing it, but it is better than putting yourself at risk of various types of cancers. When you are old enough, set up an appointment with your primary healthcare provider (or even your pediatrician) to get vaccinated. If cost is an issue, get in contact with Planned Parenthood, I heard their services are very affordable.

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