I take vitamins and drink water. I brush and floss, run and bike. I do everything you’re “supposed to do” to prevent cancer. But because of human papillomavirus, also known as HPV, I got it anyway.

The most common STI

Commonly known as a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can cause genital warts, HPV can also develop into cancer. HPV can cause cervical precancer or cancer, depending on which strain of the virus infects the cervix. About 79 million people in the United States have or have had HPV, making it the most common STI in the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In fact, most unvaccinated, sexually active adults will get a strain of HPV sometime in their life.

Spread by skin-to-skin contact, the virus often manifests no signs or symptoms, so people risk passing it on to others without even knowing it. Though your body can heal itself from some HPV strains, high-risk strains may lead to cervical abnormalities and cancer.

Unfortunately, I was in my late 20s when a new HPV vaccine was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December 2014. The vaccine was approved for