Is HPV Contagious And How Can I Prevent Contracting The Disease?

Is It Contagious?

You've just found out that your friend has HPV, the human papillomavirus, and with it, an associated condition called vaginal warts. You sympathize. It certainly sounds nasty. However, you can't help but be concerned for your own health. Is it contagious?

Well, it is, but you're not going to get it without having had sex with an infected partner. The HPV that causes genital warts is an STD, a sexually transmitted disease. That means that just because your best friend has HPV you shouldn't give her the support she needs at this difficult time. Now that you know what a weird, embarrassing, and even dangerous condition HPV can be, you wonder what you should know about this disease to protect yourself from contracting it too.

Not Even A Condom Can Prevent HPV Infection With Total Reliability

As it turns out, the simplest way of preventing not just HPV, but other STDs as well, is to stay in a monogamous relationship. If that's not possible, try to limit the number of sexual partners with whom you have sex. The sad fact is that not even a condom can prevent HPV infection with total reliability.

There are some vaccines available, but this is both good and bad news. The good news is that they exist and the bad news is that there are several different strains of HPV, and there is only a vaccine for some of these varieties. Also, the vaccine only works if you haven't been exposed to the virus. It's ideal for women to have the vaccine before they become sexually active.

Vaccinate Early

In fact, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) now recommends that girls between the ages of 11 and 12 receive the vaccine known as Gardasil as part of their regular immunization regimen. American girls are having sex earlier than ever, and most pediatricians are urging their female patients to have this vaccine since it is the most powerful tool for protecting against cervical cancer, a potential condition of HPV infected women. Even if someone has HPV, the vaccine can protect against contracting other strains of the virus, though it is not yet known if the vaccine is effective in men.

There are very few side effects to the vaccine. In fact, the only possible side effect worth mentioning is pain at the site of the injection. If you think that you are at risk of contracting this disease, you should speak to your doctor about having an injection of Gardasil.