This is an important article for everyone to read. If you have a young man or woman in your life consider having them get the HPV vaccine. It could be life saving later in life, and it will help to protect their sexual partners also. The HPV vaccine works best when given before the onset of sexual activity. We all think we will know when our kids begin having “sex” but I can tell you from my more than 30 years of taking care of young woman that we do NOT usually know. Smoking and alcohol consumption encourages the persistence of the HPV virus and increases the risk of oral cancers in middle age.
Talking to our children about safe sex and sexual responsibility is important. Many young people think oral sex is not really sex. Planned Parenthood has many good handouts on how to be responsible sexually especially when young and inexperienced. Most of us know how to prevent the spread of HIV but how many of us think about the risk of throat cancer. It is particularly hard for young people to think about risk that does not develop until the are in their 40’s and 50’s. I could not really conceive of being 30 when I was in my early 20’s yet alone 59!