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Human Papilloma Virus in Teenagers

by Candice Coleman

Human Papillomavirus, or HPV, is a sexually transmitted infection that can play a role in the development of genital warts. It may also be a contributing factor in developing cervical cancer in women. Many people may catch HPV when they become sexually active during their teenage years. In most people, HPV will go away on its own without anyone knowing that it was there in the first place. However, teenagers can do plenty to prevent catching the infection.

Sexual Practices

The biggest risk factors for Human Papilloma Virus involve sexual activity and history, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The more sexual partners a teenager has, the more likely he is to contract HPV. Limiting the number of sexual partners your teen has is wise. In addition, it is imported to be in a sexually monogamous relationship to reduce a teenager's odds of getting HPV. Selecting sexual partners who have few or no other previous sexual partners may also protect a teenager from getting HPV.

Vaccinations

Cervarix and Gardasil are the two vaccines recommended for girls, and Gardasil is the vaccine recommended for boys, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Girls and women between 11 and 26 and boys and men between 11 and 21 should get the vaccine, according to KidsHealth. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved HPV vaccinations for children as young as 9 years old. The vaccinations are most effective if your teenager has not been sexually active, but vaccinations may still protect sexually active teenagers who have not yet contracted HPV. The vaccination protocol is a three-shot sequence over the course of six months. Some teens may experience side effects like soreness or swelling around the shot area or they may develop a fever, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Your teen can contact her doctor about getting the shot.

Prevention

Teens can protect themselves from contracting HPV by using a condom for every sexual act, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Boys should wear condoms through the entirety of every sexual act. However, some teenagers may still contract HPV despite wearing a condom because a condom does not cover every area infected with HPV. Abstaining from all sexual contact is the most effective way to prevent HPV. Evidence also exists that circumcised men are less likely to contract HPV, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Considerations

Some parents may wonder if getting a teen vaccinated against HPV is necessary, if she is not yet sexually active. The truth is that you may not know if -- or when -- your daughter will become sexually active. Symptoms of HPV might not develop for years after the sexual contact, according to KidsHealth. Once someone has HPV, a vaccination will not help.

About the Author

Candice Coleman worked in the public school system as a middle school and high school substitute teacher. In addition to teaching, she is also a tutor for high school and college students.

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