30 Oct Myths and facts on HPV
How much do you know about human papillomavirus(HPV), the sexually transmitted virus that causes more than 90% of cancer of the cervix?
Myth: HPV infection is not common
Fact: HPV infection is very common. Four out of five people (80%) will have the virus at some point in their lives. A healthy lifestyle can help you reduce your risk of infection. Eat well, exercise regularly and stop smoking. These can help boost your immune system which is responsible for fighting off the infection.
Myth: Only women get HPV.
Fact: Men can get HPV too. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USA, most sexually active men will have at least one HPV infection at some point in their lives. Any person who is sexually active can contract HPV, even if you have had only one sexual partner.
Myth: You will know if you have HPV infection
Fact: HPV infection normally has no signs or symptoms. A person who has been infected with the virus may never know that he or she has the infection. Only about 1% of all sexually active people would have visible signs of genital warts. HPV infection is usually detected by abnormal pap smear and biopsy of the cervix(neck of the womb).
Myth: If you use a condom you won’t get HPV
Fact: Wearing condoms can reduce your risk of getting HPV but not completely as the virus can live on the skin in and around the genital area which may not be covered by the condom. It can therefore be transmitted through sexual contact including genital to genital contact, oral, vaginal and anal sex.
Myth: With HPV vaccination, you won’t get HPV
Fact: HPV vaccination can reduce the risk of infection by the HPV types targeted by the vaccine. Three vaccines have been approved: Gardasil®, Gardasil® 9, and Cervarix®. While all the vaccines are available for women, only Gardasil is available for men. These vaccines provide strong protection against new HPV infections, but they are not effective at treating established HPV infections or disease caused by HPV (15, 16).
Regular pap smear is just as important even if you have been vaccinated as it may detect abnormalities caused by other types of HPV.