Black Women and HPV

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FACT: African American women are more likely to have persistent high-risk HPV infection.

What is HPV?

The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is known to cause most cervical cancer worldwide and is a common virus that is spread through sexual intercourse.

While developing cervical cancer if you are under the age of 25 is very rare, HPV infection is most common during your late teen or early 20’s, according to the CDC.

HPV is the leading cause of almost all cervical cancers. It can take as long as 20 years after HPV infection for the cancer to develop. HPV is asymptomatic, without screening most women are unaware of it and its life-threatening consequences.

Cervical cancer is caused by infection with certain high-risk types of Human Papilloma Viruses (HPVs), of which type 16 is the most prevalent. HPV types 16 and 18 account for 65-70 percent of cervical cancers.

What should I know about the HPV vaccine?

According to the CDC, Gardasil® 9 is the HPV vaccine available for use in the U.S. It is both safe and effective. Since it was developed, 120 million vaccines have been administered and infections by cancer causing HPV strains have dropped 71% in young adult women.

If you have received the vaccine, you should continue to receive regular Pap smears, as there are some strains of HPV that are not prevented by the vaccination.

Who should get the HPV vaccine:

The HPV vaccine offers you the greatest health benefits if you receive all three doses before having any type of sexual activity. That’s why HPV vaccination is recommended for preteen girls and boys at age 11 or 12 years. However, if you are in your late teens or early twenties and have not yet received the vaccine, you can still be vaccinated!

YOUNG WOMEN: HPV vaccines are recommended for all teen girls and women through age 26, who did not get all three doses of the vaccine when they were younger.

YOUNG MEN: The HPV vaccine is recommended for all teen boys and men through age 21, who did not get all three doses of the vaccine when they were younger (CDC).