Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) at OBGYN Clinic Near Me in Chicago, IL
Human papilloma virus (HPV) is a common sexually transmitted virus. In fact, it’s the most common; there are 100 types, most of which are harmless. No matter a woman’s age, she is at risk for contracting HPV. In addition, some types of HPV cause genital warts, and about 10 high-risk strains can lead to cancer of the cervix, vulva or vagina. That, in turn, increases a woman’s risk of cervical cancer; persistent infection with a high-risk strain of HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer.
HPV is responsible for most cervical cancers. However, fewer than 1 percent of all women get cervical cancer.
In most cases, a healthy immune system is able to clear the virus so new non-infected cervical cells can replace abnormal ones. Certain persistent types of HPV require monitoring. It takes years for pre-cancerous cells to turn into cancerous ones. Regular Pap smears ensure that if pre-cancerous cells appear, they can be treated early.
Condoms help prevent the transmission of HPV, but they don’t guarantee protection. Transmission of some virus forms is possible through skin-to-skin contact (non-coital genital relations). Because most forms of the virus have no symptoms, many people do not know they are carrying it.
The FDA approved Gardasil, a vaccine that immunizes girls and women ages 9–26 against the four most common types of HPV. Gardasil is administered in three injections over the course of a year. It is primarily intended for young women who have never been exposed to HPV, but women of any age who are not in a monogamous relationship can benefit from it. If you already have HPV, the vaccine will protect you against any of the four strains you do not have. The vaccine protects against just four strains of the virus, so while it greatly reduces the chance of infection, it doesn’t eliminate it.
The vaccination costs about $700. Many insurance plans cover the vaccine for girls and women ages 9–26.