If You Don’t Have HPV, You’re Lucky (And There’s a Preventative Vaccine For You)
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Did you know you have HPV? OK, maybe you don’t. But you might!
Luckily for you, there’s a vaccine for that, but almost one-quarter of Americans don’t have the luxury of a preventative shot since they may already have it. HPV, or human papillomavirus, is one of the most common Sexual Transmitted Infections (STIs) humans deal with. And you may not realize the severity, but it can lead to rectal, vaginal, penile, and throat cancer. Just ask Michael Douglas.
Here’s the tricky part: Men can’t be tested for HPV. Women can. They get their pap smears, but there’s no way for doctors to identify the virus in guys. What’s better, it’s extremely difficult to tell if you’re even infected since 90 percent of the time there aren’t any symptoms. It’s not as obvious as The Walking Dead out there so the next time you think going in without a jimmy hat, think again. Better yet, think about Michael Douglas and what he would say.
Here’s what you need to know about HPV and the vaccination.
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Fortunately for us, there’s a vaccine available that can prevent almost all the dangerous strains of this virus. It’s estimated that the vaccine can prevent almost 90 percent of the over 33,000 cases of cancer caused every year from ever appearing. The catch? It works best if you’re between 11 and 12 years old.
The vaccine is most effective before a person has ever been exposed to a strain of the virus via sexual activity. Since most of us aren’t bumping uglies at 11 years old, it’s the best time to get poked with something else. This doesn’t help the people who only find out about this vaccine much later in life.
So what is someone supposed to do if they miss their window? Are they just out of luck? Not completely. There are a couple ways for people to get the vaccine even if they’re not 12 years old anymore.
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The Center for Disease Control has announced a new strain of the HPV vaccine that can work in certain people up to the age of 26: men who have sex with men, transgender people, and women. These groups can have success with the vaccine up to this age because it’s possible they haven’t been exposed to every dangerous strain.
If you’re past the ripe age of 26, don’t despair. New guidelines from the Food and Drug Administration estimate that one form of the vaccine can be effective for men and women until the age of 45. In the wise words of LMFAO: "Shots, shots, shots, shots."
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As it stands, there’s really only one reason not to get the HPV vaccine if you’re under 45 and plan on having sex ever again. That reason is cost. Insurance companies currently offer no reimbursement for getting the vaccine after you’re 26. Even up to 26 the coverage is spotty, at best.
A vaccine will run you a cool $500-$600, or roughly half of the new iPhone. But considering it can prevent cancer in you and your significant other, we’d say it’s pretty worth it. Words with Friends isn’t going anywhere.
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