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As a teen, why should I get vaccinated for HPV?

Patricia Geraghty, NP
Women's Health
HPV stands for human papilloma virus. There are over a hundred different strains of HPV, some of which are known to cause changes in the cells of the cervix. These changes are detected as abnormal pap smears. If left untreated, these changes can progress into cervical cancer.  Other strains of HPV cause genital warts.
There are now two different vaccines available for some of the HPV strains. One of the vaccine covers the most commonly seen strains causing abnormal pap smears. The other vaccine also protects against genital warts. These vaccines are available for both girls and boys.
It’s obvious that protecting yourself from both genital warts and cervical cell abnormalities is a good idea if you are a girl. Protecting yourself from warts and protecting your partner is a good idea if you are a boy.
Even if you are not sexually active and you have no plans to become sexually active for a long time, there is an argument for getting the vaccine now. Your immune system is stronger when you are young. Since all vaccines use your immune system to provide protection, getting the vaccine younger means you typically have a stronger response.
Women do still need to check for cervical cell abnormalities even if they have the vaccine. This means getting pap smears at the right time.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.