What is HPV?

HPV, or human papillomavirus, is one of the most common viruses. There are more than 40 different types (or strains) of it that prefer to hang out around genitalia, including the vagina, penis and around the anus. HPV can live in the mouth or throat and on skin or objects that have recently touched genitalia. That means HPV may be passed from one person to another through vaginal, anal, or oral sex, or even by intimate touching or sharing sex toys.

Four strains of HPV cause the vast majority of cases of cervical cancer and genital warts. Here’s the good news: the Gardasil vaccine has proven to be highly effective at protecting women against the four most dangerous strains—and there’s a new version of Gardasil that protects against nine strains.

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