i am you...and you are me.
Lean in ladies, and today...let's talk about H-P-V. That's right...the Human Papillomavirus. Today, I did a thing. After years (and I do mean YEARS) of advocating for HPV awareness, writing a senior thesis, and being as positive as I can be about women owning their sexuality and bodies...I, Adia R. Louden, did NOT have the HPV Vaccine. Hypocrite, right? My apologies. With a yellow card FULL of immunizations...I just assumed I took that step a long time ago. Well, that's taken care of and let's just pray my cervix hasn't given up on me. You'll see why I say this later.
So, HPV. What is it? Anybody? Somebody?
Below, I'm going to give you the HPV basics, all taken from reliable sources and most importantly...ME.
1. Cervical cancer is one of the leading causes of death among women in the United States (American Cancer Society 2016).
2. The Structure of HPV: The Human Papillomavirus is a small virus about ~55 nm (laymen terms: it's really small) in diameter that infects the skin or mucosal cells (laymen terms~this virus enters through skin-to-skin contact) (Zheng and Baker 2006).
3. HPV infection is the major cause of genital warts (Stanley 2010).
4. HPV IS considered an STI (sexually transmitted infection-an infectious disease that spreads from person to person during sexual contact).
5. A lot of HPV information centers on women, since having the virus increases the risk of cervical cancer. But, HPV can also infect the genital areas, mouth, and throat region of men (Center for Disease Control and Prevention 2013).
6. What is cervical cancer? To begin, you can think of cancer as an "overgrowth" of cells in your body. Cancer is always named after where it begins in the body. Thus, cervical cancer is when cancer starts in a woman's cervix. The cervix connects a woman's vagina to upper part of the uterus (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2017).
7. Vaccines are available to prevent HPV types that cause most cervical cancer. The current HPV Vaccine is Gardasil 9. Gardasil 9 prevents infection with the HPV types: 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58. HPV type 16 and 18 are two high-risk HPVs that cause about 70% of cervical cancers (National Institute of Health 2018).
Want to know more? Please visit credible sources such as www.cdc.gov or the NIH website to learn more about the Human Papillomavirus and how/why you or someone you know should get vaccinated.