There are now vaccinations that prevent you from catching the most common strains of HPV (human papilloma virus). These vaccines are recommended for both boys and girls. Two different products are on the market. One covers the two most common strains of HPV that cause abnormal pap smears, or changes on the cells of the cervix, which may progress into cervical cancer. The other product also covers these two strains and additionally covers two strains of HPV that cause genital warts.
While the vaccines are still relatively new, they appear to be very effective. However, there are many strains of HPV and the virus is very common in the human population. One study found that, by age 50, just under 80% of women showed evidence of being exposed to HPV at some time in their lives. While medicine cannot cure HPV, most of these women were able to fight off the effect of the virus through their own strong immune systems.
Reducing the number of sexual partners is very important in reducing the risk of getting HPV strains for which there is no vaccine.
It is still very important to get regular examinations, including pap smears, if you have been having intercourse.