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Arizona health services department recommends HPV vaccine for college students

PHOENIX — Many young adults are back on college campuses and living in dorms, so the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) is recommending they take an extra step to protect themselves.

The department is recommending students get vaccinated for the Human Papillomavirus, a highly contagious sexually transmitted disease, according to Dr. Karen Lewis with the ADHS.

“Body fluids have the virus (and) it’s extremely contagious,” she said. “By the time you’re 50 years old, about 80 percent of people will have acquired the infection.”

Lewis said most people get over the infection on their own, only suffering cosmetic symptoms.

“HPV comes in about 120 strains, 80 of the strains are just common skin warts,” Lewis said. “But 40 of the strains can cause infections.”

For others, HPV can cause much more serious and life-threatening health concerns.

“Some people will go on to develop cancer,” said Lewis.

The vaccination is given in three separate doses and Lewis said because of how contagious the disease is, getting the vaccine is a good idea.

“HPV vaccine protects against a majority of viruses that cause cervical cancers and throat cancers,” she said.

Lewis said the vaccine is recommended for people between 9 and 26 years old.