What is the human papillomavirus? What is the best way to reduce the risk of getting HPV?

Human papilloma virus – commonly known as HPV – is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

There are more than 100 kinds of HPV, most of them are harmless, according the National Institutes of Health (NIH). But, about 30 can cause cervical dysplasia – changes to cells on the surface of the uterus that can be a sign of cancer.

The best way to prevent HPV is to get the HPV vaccine, according to the NIH. If girls get the vaccine before becoming sexually active, they reduce their chances of getting cervical cancer.

The vaccine is recommended for girls and women ages 11 through 26, and boys and men ages 11 through 21. It is given in three doses over a six month period, according to the CDC.

For people who are sexually active, using condoms from start to finish of every sex act can help lower the risk of HPV, but they do not fully protect against it, according to the CDC.

For more information about HPV and how to prevent it, talk with your doctor.

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