Rite Aid's foremost concern is the health and wellness of our customers. And one of our biggest concerns is helping our customers avoid diseases like human papillomavirus (HPV). Genital human papillomavirus is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. It infects the genital regions of both males and females, and there are over 40 different types of the virus. These different types can also infect other areas of the body, like the throat and mouth. Though sometimes confused with other viruses, HPV is not the same as HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) or herpes (HSV) - all are sexually transmitted viruses, but each causes different and distinct symptoms and health problems.
Important: Vaccine availability and age restrictions apply in some states. See your pharmacist for details.
About 79 million people in the U.S. are currently infected with HPV and approximately 14 million become newly infected each year. Most people have no symptoms and are unaware that they are infected. While most HPV infections eventually go away as the body clears the virus, some people will develop persistent, high-risk HPV infections, which may lead to cervical and other types of rare cancers. The American Cancer Society estimates that over 12,000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer and more that 4,000 will die from cervical cancer in the U.S. in 2017.
Symptoms or health problems are normally not experienced by those who have human papillomavirus. In most instances, a person's immune system will clear the virus. However, there is no way of telling which HPV carriers will not clear the virus and experience health problems.
The HPV types that can lead to genital warts are not the same types that can lead to cancer.
Both males and females can be protected from some of the most common types of HPV by vaccination. HPV vaccines are safe and effective. For persons starting the series before their 15th birthday, 2 doses are recommended. The second dose of HPV vaccine should be given six to twelve months after the first dose. Teens and young adults who start the series at ages 15 through 26 years need three doses of HPV vaccine over a six-month period. It is crucial to get all three doses to ensure the best protection from HPV. The vaccines are most effective when administered at 11 or 12 years of age.
HPV vaccine is also recommended for gay and bisexual men, as well as men and women who have compromised immune systems (e.g. HIV/AIDS) through age 26 who did not get any or all of the doses when they were younger.
Condoms may lower the risk of HPV infection for those individuals who are sexually active. Using them for every sex act, from start to finish, is most effective. Condom use may also lower the danger of contracting HPV-related diseases like cervical cancer and genital warts. However, HPV can infect areas NOT covered by a condom - so condoms are not guaranteed protection from HPV.
Individuals can also lessen the risk of contracting human papillomavirus by being in a monogamous relationship, limiting their number of sex partners, and being with a partner who has had no, or few, prior sex partners. But people with a single, lifetime sex partner can still contract HPV. It may not even be apparent if a partner who has been sexually active in the past is currently infected. Abstinence the only sure way to avoid sexually transmitted HPV.
A treatment for human papillomavirus does not exist, but there are treatments for HPV-related problems: