HPV Vaccines... Is It Right For You? Cervical cancer is a slow-growing cancer that may not have symptoms, doctors tell us, and it is almost always caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. The good news is that there are HPV vaccines that will protect us against the types of HPV that cause 70% of cervical cancer. Every federal health authority recommends this treatment which is administered in a three-shot series. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a little more than one third of the nation's 13 –17 year olds have already received the immunization. Have you taken the shot? Should you? Here are some facts to help you make your decision. HPV is a family of 100 or so related viruses. They are called papillomaviruses because certain types may cause warts (or papillomas), which are noncancerous tumors. These HPVs are different from those that cause the common warts that grow on hands and feet. Of the more than 100 types of HPV, over 30 types can be passed on from one person to another through sexual contact. About six million new genital HPV infections occur each year in the U.S. Most occur without any symptoms and go away without any treatment over the course of a few years. Both men and women can contract HPV and pass it on to their partners during intercourse. The CDC recommends that girls get vaccinated at the age of 11 or 12 because once they are sexually active, they are more likely to become infected with HPV and the vaccine doesn't have any effect after that. The other advantage of having the vaccination at the age of 11 is that this is the age where you're likely to be receiving other shots. Before any vaccine is licensed, the FDA determines it is both safe and effective. Gardasil and Cervarix, the two HPV vaccines, have been tested on tens of thousands of people. So far no serious side effects, other than brief soreness, have been shown to be caused by the HPV vaccines. Gardasil and Cervarix, the two HPV vaccines, prevent nearly 100% of the precancerous cervical cell changes caused by the types of HPV targeted by the vaccine. Research is being conducted to find out how long this protection will last. Although both HPV vaccines have the potential to reduce cervical cancer deaths around the world by as much as two-thirds, it is important to note they are not a guarantee. The surest way to eliminate risk for genital HPV infection is to refrain from any genital contact with another individual. And the surest way to decide whether getting immunized is right for you is to discuss it with your parents and your doctor. Learn about hpv vaccines and read how to prevent std's at BeingGirl.com.