Here are some facts about college students
and sex, nationwide, according to a University of Albany, N.Y.,
86.1 percent had sexual intercourse.
34.5 percent have had sexual intercourse with six or more sex
Only 29.6 percent reported that either they or their partners
had used a condom during the last time of intercourse.
35.1 percent reported that they had become pregnant or gotten
Add to these the a information that was developed by the American
Social Health Association: 75 percent of Americans between the
ages of 15 and 49 have been infected by the genital strain of
the human papillomavirus (HPV), the proven precursor to cervical
And, according to research published in The New England Journal
of Medicine, “[HPV] is an epidemic among college-age adults;
43 percent of college women studied were HPV infected at some
point over the three-year study.”
HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that you may not even know
that you have because it is spread by skin to skin contact and
can be transmitted even if you use a condom.
There are 100 different types of HPV, according to the Department
of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention. Further: “More than 30 of these viruses are
sexually transmitted, and they can infect the genital areas of
men and women.”
Also, the virus is asymptomatic, which means that there are no
symptoms to show that you have it.
Two types of this virus can trigger genital warts, but the real
danger is that 15 types can lead to cervical cancer in about
15 percent of young women who contract the virus, according to
Christine Waldron, an Ob-Gyn at Women’s Health Care of
New England. “For about 85 percent of the young girls who
contract HPV, their immune systems can fight it, and even those
who contract a high- risk type of HPV may not develop cervical
cancer,” said Waldron.
Abstinence is the best way to avoid contracting HPV. While use
of a condom does not completely prevent spreading, as the condom
does not cover the entire male genitals, it does lower the risk
of infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “Condom
use has been associated with a lower rate of cervical cancer.”
The American Cancer Society recommends also getting regular tests
from your Ob-Gyn, in order to check for signs of cervical cancer
and HPV infection. The ACS has estimated that about 10,520 women
developed invasive cervical cancer, and about 3,900 women died
from it in 2004. The women who developed cancer had not had regular
cervical cancer screening.
In addition to protective measures and regular cervical examinations,
a vaccine is now available that can protect against four HPV
types that together cause 70 percent of cervical cancers and
90 percent of genital warts.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently licensed
this vaccine, Gardasil®, for use in girls and women ages
9-26 years. The vaccine is ideal for girls and women to receive
the shot before they become sexually active, as any contact with
HPV reduces the vaccine’s effectiveness. Women who are
pregnant should not be vaccinated.
Even if you have been vaccinated, you should continue to get
regular cervical cancer screenings, because the vaccine does
not protect against all of the types of HPV or all types of cancers.
For more information on human papilloma virus (HPV), cervical
cancer, or the vaccine, visit the Web site for the Centers for
Disease Control at: www.cdc.gov.
If you are sexually active, consult your Ob-Gyn and take other
measures to protect yourself and reduce the spread of HPV. The
life you save may be your own.