These factors increase the risk:
- Many sexual partners. The more sex partners you have had - coupled with the number of partners your partner has had - increases the risk of acquiring HPV.
- Early sexual activity. Having sex before age 18 increases the risk of HPV.
- STDs. Having other STDs increases the chance of HPV.
- Weak immune system. If your immune system is weak due to another health problem, the chances of cervical cancer increase.
Controversy seems to follow the HPV vaccine. I've heard people say that if mothers take their daughters to get the vaccine, the parent is promoting sex outside marriage. Isn't there just as good a chance that the parent is saying 'I love you and I want to protect you from a deadly disease.'
Receiving the three-shot series seems logical. MSNBC reports that some girls faint or suffer pain following the injection. But a little pain sure beats the possibility of cancer.
January is Cervical Cancer Screening Month. If you have daughters, this is a good time to discuss HPV and its potential harm. If you haven't had a Pap test in the last three years, this would be a good time to schedule one. It might save your life.