Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection worldwide. It affects more than 75% of sexually active men and women in their lifetime, and 4 out of 5 Canadians will get at least one type of HPV at some point. Most strains of HPV are harmless – infected individuals never develop symptoms and the virus resolves on its own within a couple of years. But other strains can lead to certain types of cancer such as cervical, anal, penile, and oropharyngeal (mouth and throat) cancer.
The good news is that HPV is preventable. Two different vaccines have been developed which can successfully prevent infection when administered early on, therefore, stopping many HPV-related cancers from growing. Since most infected individuals are unaware they have the virus though and unknowingly pass it on, it is imperative that everyone eligible gets vaccinated.
HPV Prevention Week, which takes place October 1-7, aims to increase awareness of the virus and encourage public dialogue about the prevention of HPV-related diseases and cancers.
To protect yourself, your children, and your loved ones, vaccination is key. Here’s what you need to know about the HPV vaccine: