As college students, we have a million things on our plates, and we often forget about one of the most important things: good sexual health. The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common STI in the U.S. We live in a society that promotes and glorifies the "hook-up culture", especially in college. The American Psychological Association published "A Sexual Hook Up Culture: A Review" that gives examples of this mindset in our society. It's shown in everything from Katy Perry's "Last Friday Night" lyrics to Tinder matches we decide to meet up with at 2 A.M.

This casual attitude can sometimes be oh-so-dangerous. As most things go, people don't care until it's too late. If you haven't gotten the Gardasil 9 shot series, we recommend that you do. ASAP.

HPV Facts You Need to Know

The CDC provides detailed information about this serious infection, explaining that you can get it by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the virus. HPV can even be passed even when an infected person shows no signs or symptoms. 

The CDC also provided this alarming statistic: "About 14 million people, including teens, become infected with HPV each year." Anyone who is sexually active is at risk. You can develop symptoms years after sex, making it hard to know when you first became infected. 

Although HPV usually clears up on its own, it doesn't mean that it will. Long-term HPV can cause another health issue: cancer. "Every year in the United States, HPV causes 30,700 cancers in men and women," writes the American Society of Clinical Oncology. The HPV vaccination can prevent most of these cancers from occurring, making it an important thing to check off your list the next time you head to the doctor.

Getting A Professional Opinion

Doctors have always stressed preventative care, especially when it comes to STIs. We spoke with Joanne Niere Ramos, MD, who specializes in Family Medicine in West Virginia. Her most important piece of advice is, "Be proactive with your health. Learn what you can do to protect your body for the long haul."

Dr. Niere encounters various patients everyday and has seen what the repercussions are if you choose not to be vaccinated. She continued to reiterate its importance, saying, "The HPV vaccination can help prevent cervical, vaginal, vulvar, throat and anal cancer. We even recommend giving the vaccine series to boys, too, as young as 9, as HPV is such a common virus that causes infections."

Now that you have the facts, it's up to you to make the decision. Be smart, be safe, and most of all, be informed.