Sexual Health news - Oral and Genital Herpes

You don't need to have sexual intercourse to get HPV

Most sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), like chlamydia and gonorrhea, are transmitted through sexual intercourse. However, strains of HPV, which may cause genital herpes, can be transmitted through direct skin-to-skin contact, especially if the infected individual has open sores in and around the genital area.

According to a new study published in the journal Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, approximately 12 percent of girls who never had sexual intercourse were diagnosed with at least one strain of HPV, as reported by LifeScience. Researchers tested more than 250 young females who visited a Cincinnati clinic and received the HPV vaccine between 2008 and 2010. Participants also reported whether they had sexual contact without intercourse.

HPV is the most common STD in the U.S. and affects around 20 million individuals between the ages of 15 and 49, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In addition, a least half of all Americans who are sexually active get infected with the virus at some point in their life.

Researchers found that almost three-quarters of the participants were sexually active, 70 percent of whom tested positive for HPV, as reported by LifeScience. A total of 69 girls hadn't had sex, but were also diagnosed with the virus.

"Even before kids have intercourse, they're being exposed to HPV," Lea Widdice, a researcher who worked on the study, told the news source. "Vaccination a 11 to 12 years old is not too early."

There are currently two vaccines on the market, Gardasil and Cervarix, that can counteract the strains of HPV that cause vaginal and cervical cancers, according to the HHS. Gardasil also protects against genital warts, which can grow on, in and around the genital area. However, it's important that patients receive the vaccine before becoming sexually active for the optimal protection. 
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