HPV (human papilloma virus) is one of the most common STDs, but just because you’re not having sex doesn’t mean you’re safe from it. A new report says that teens who don’t have sexual intercourse are still at a high risk for HPV. Yikes!
A recent study showed that 11.6 percent of girls who said they’d never had sexual intercourse were diagnosed with at least one strain of HPV. Here’s the thing, though–sexual intercourse isn’t the only way to spread or contract HPV. HPV can be transmitted through genital-to-genital or hand-to-genital contact, as well as through oral sex–though intercourse (vaginal or anal) is the most common culprit.
Most people with HPV don’t show symptoms, but that doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous. In fact, that may make it worse–if you don’t think there’s anything wrong with you, you may be less likely to use protection, right? But there are over 40 strains of the virus, and at least a dozen of them can cause cervical cancer later on. This is not something you wanna mess with!
The report supports the idea that most girls should get the HPV vaccine, which will prevent not only the virus, but also the subsequent complications, before they become sexually active–experts say 11 or 12 is a pretty good age. That’s in part because people can define sexual activity differently–for instance, if you give a guy a hand job, you may not consider yourself sexually active, but your doctor might.
Of course, some opponents insist, for whatever reason, that getting the HPV vaccine will encourage you to have sex, which is absurd. At worst, the HPV vaccine may encourage you to make informed decisions about safe sex at some point, but it’s not like getting an HPV vaccine all of a sudden turns normal, sweet girls into lust-hungry horn dogs. In fact, 25 percent of girls have gotten the HPV vaccine, and teen pregnancy rates are actually down–so are the number of girls having sex, period. Just kinda drives the point home that this argument makes no sense, doesn’t it?
Though the study needs to be expanded, it’s a good warning: Even if you aren’t having sexual intercourse with someone, it doesn’t mean you’re safe from HPV and other sexually transmitted diseases and infections. Be sure to be safe, and talk with your doctor, your parents and especially your partner about contraception, condoms, and the HPV vaccine, because this diseases so common that it’s scary–but it doesn’t have to be.
Do you think you’re at risk for HPV? Did you get the HPV vaccine? Do you think the HPV vaccine will decrease the number of girls who contract HPV? Have you ever been tested for HPV? Tell us in the comments!