Talking to Kids About HPV

Last Modified: February 5, 2010

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Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

What do I tell my daughters about prevention of HPV infection? Is abstinence the only answer?


Christina S. Chu, MD, Assistant Professor of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, responds:

About 70-80% of women have been exposed to HPV. There are even studies documenting HPV exposure in very young girls--possibly through perinatal transmission (from mother to baby). Aside from penile-vaginal intercourse, exposure can occur from touching and rubbing. Abstinence, avoidance of sexual contact, and condom usage are probably among the best ways to prevent and decrease risk of HPV transmission.

Another very important way to prevent HPV infection is getting the Gardasil vaccine. This vaccine has been shown to be very effective at preventing infection from 4 types of HPV--2 of which cause 70% of the cervical cancer cases in this country.

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series, How Much Do You Know About HPV?. View the entire transcript here.

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