When Abba M. learned that a sexual partner had exposed her to the human papillomavirus, commonly known as HPV, she did “a bunch of Googling.” The 21-year-old Alabama resident knew very little about it.
Turning to her friends proved unhelpful. Most, like Abba, had never learned about the virus in school. “HPV isn’t really a thing,” a friend told her. “You have it, but you don’t have it, so don’t worry about it.”
To the contrary, HPV is something people, especially girls and women, ought to worry about. In fact, it’s the most common sexually transmitted infection in America, and it leads to around 35,000 cases of cancer annually. HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer, which kills around 4,200 U.S. women each year.
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