HPV: The Viral Link to Cancer
2. Condoms Can’t Completely Protect You From HPV
8 Essential Facts About HPV Vaccines
3. If You’re Infected, Your Current Partner May Not Be to Blame
Can Circumcision Prevent HPV Spread?
7. You Still Need Pap Smears Even if You’ve Gotten the HPV Vaccine
The HPV vaccine doesn’t protect against all possible high-risk types of HPV, nor does it protect against any strains a person was exposed to before vaccination, so Pap smears are still recommended for women who have had the HPV vaccine.
As of 2017, the only HPV vaccine available in the United States is Gardasil 9, which protects against HPV 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58, all of which can cause cancer, as well as types 6 and 11, which cause genital warts. Two earlier HPV vaccines, Cervarix and Gardasil, protect against fewer HPV strains.
8. The Vaccine Doesn’t Treat HPV
This may seem obvious, but it bears repeating: The HPV vaccine is only preventive. It doesn’t fight the virus in people who’ve already acquired it. That’s partly why it’s approved only for people in their twenties and younger; chances are that older populations have already been exposed to the HPV strains the vaccine protects against. However, researchers are currently studying the value of vaccinating women older than 26.
There’s no treatment for the HPV virus, although it can go away on its own. Women who have abnormal Pap test results may be advised to wait and be retested in three to six months, have additional tests to further examine any abnormality, or have treatment to remove the abnormal cells.