Sexual Health Friday February 19, 2016

7 Myths About HPV

Human papilloma virus (HPV) is a multitude of viruses that breed in the dark damp areas of our bodies - the moist membranes of the lips, genitals, anus and cervix.

There are more than 100 types of HPV, 30 of which infect the genitals. HPV infections are very common. The infection is transmitted through sex, oral sex and sexual activities - it's all about skin-to-skin contact.

HPV is set to overtake smoking as the number one cause of oral cancer, so it's serious, but don't believe everything you read (apart from this) because there are a number of myths about HPV. Let's bust 'em like Van Helsing.

1. HPV is rare

No, quite the opposite. Genital HPV is extremely common; most people have it at some point. There are 14 million new diagnoses in the States each year, and it's the second most common STI in England (the first is chlamydia, in case you were wondering). HPV is easily spread, which may have something to do with its commonality.

2. HPV gives you cancer

Some of the types, like HPV 16 and HPV 18, can cause skin changes that develop into anal cancer, oesophageal cancer, or cervical cancer. Others lead to warts. If you pick up genital warts they'll look and feel like tiny cauliflowers. Visit your GP or clinic to get them removed.

3. Men don't get HPV

Yes, men can pick up HPV too. Any sexually active person is at risk of HPV, even if you've had only one sexual partner. So far it's only schoolgirls that are entitled to an HPV vaccine, but campaigners are calling for a male equivalent.

4. Genital warts give you cancer

No. Genital warts don't cause cancer. Warts can appear on the genitals, anus, and mouth but the kind of HPV that causes visible warts is a low-risk one. Head to your clinic to have them removed.

5. Condoms protect against HPV

They may help to lower the risk so always use one. Dental dams can help protect during oral sex too. Limiting sexual partners can also provide some protection, so this is something to bear in mind.

The virus is spread via skin-on-skin contact, so it can be transmitted on difficult to cover places such as the scrotum or the vulva, that are exposed even when using a condom.

6. HPV is curable

Warts and precancerous lesions are treatable but the virus itself is not. However, The Centre for Disease Control reports that 90% of cases are killed off by the immune system within two years.

7. HPV symptoms are obvious - they're warts

Genital warts are caused by several types of HPV, but there are 100 types and not all of them have symptoms. Some people can carry and spread the virus without knowing because they have no symptoms. Don't be surprised if you suddenly develop genital warts despite being in a monogamous long-term relationship - chances are no-one has been unfaithful, it's just taken that long for the symptoms to come out.



Sources
http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/2611.aspx
http://www.everydayhealth.com/news/myths-about-hpv/
http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/sexually-transmitted-infections/pages/introduction.aspx

Latest Stories

Get your daily dose of inspiration from our Best of healthexpress blog , where we showcase some of the most stunning stories and information.

Sexual Health

The Future Of Sexual Health: Les...

What does the sexual health future hold if antibiotics become ineffective? Despite huge leaps in healthcare technology over the past few years,...

Sexual Health

New 3-Minute Test Could Enable S...

A new computer program, that can analyse bacterial DNA, may speed up the diagnosis of drug-resistant infections and help better target antibiotics....

Sexual Health

Government Cuts Could Lead To A ...

'An explosion in sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis and antibiotic resistant gonorrhoea' is approaching. No, this isn't a news...

Sexual Health

What Can Quitting Alcohol Do For...

Dry January - woo! I won't get drenched on the school run. Oh, it actually means giving up alcohol? Oh dear. Not quite the same thing. So why...

 What Does Antibiotic Resistance Mean For Sexual Health?
Sexual Health

What Does Antibiotic Resistance...

Antibiotic resistance is not a warning of a far-flung future apocalyptic doom, it's happening right now. And yes, we should be worried. The golden...

Sexual Health

Not Enjoying Sex? Here's What Yo...

Want a sex life hotter than the fire of a thousand suns? Read on! It's Sexual Health Week at the moment, and the theme of this year's campaign...

Load More Stories
comments powered by Disqus