As a woman, if I have a partner with HPV can I get it if we use condoms? If we are both participating in oral sex without a condom, do I risk getting HPV orally? If I have HPV will I get cervical cancer?
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most commonly spread sexually transmitted disease. There are more than 40 types of HPV. More than half of sexually active Americans will have one version of this virus at one time or another. It is possible for someone to carry the virus for years without
exhibiting symptoms. Because of this, routine testing is important. HPV can cause genital warts and certain cancers.
Condoms can reduce the chances of contracting HPV when used properly and every time sex occurs. This includes oral sex. HPV can be spread during sexual intercourse, anal sex, oral sex and with simple genital-to-genital contact. With oral sex, the virus can infect the mouth and throat.
There are also vaccines that prevent common types of HPV. Cervarix and Gardasil are vaccines that can be used for women, while only Gardasil is available to men. These shots for women also protect against cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is rare but extremely dangerous. Every year, about 12,000 women are diagnosed with this type of cancer, and 4,210 women die each year from it. If it is not caught early enough, the chances of effective treatment and survival are significantly decreased.
HPV can cause other cancers as well, some rarer than cervical cancer, including vulvar, vaginal, anal, penile and some head and neck cancers. Approximately
17,300 of cancer cases a year are caused by HPV.
While the vaccine route is an excellent decision, there are some risks that accompany that choice. Some become sick, and some deaths have occurred as a result of the shots, but both occurrences are rare. If you are interested in receiving the shots, do some research and talk to your doctor about the risks before making an appointment.
This information and more about HPV, prevention, and cancers linked to HPV is available at www.cdc.gov/hpv/index.html.
Finally, a quick note about my last column: It was brought to my attention that I didn’t mention the local source for victims of abuse: the Henderson House at 610 SE 1st Street. Its crisis line is 503-472-1503 or 877-227-5946 and more information can be found online at www.hendersonhouse.org.
When looking up crisis information, always be careful. Use a public computer if you feel that your abuser is keeping track of your computer use.
Bailey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org