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?
A quick note on my last article: It was brought to my attention that I didn’t mention the local source for victims of abuse, the Henderson House at 610 SE First Street. The crisis line number is (503) 472-1503 or (877) 227-5946 and can be found online at www.hendersonhouse.org. When searching for crisis information, always be careful and use a public computer if you feel that your abuser
is keeping track of your computer use.
Moving on: Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most commonly spread STD. There are more than 40 types of HPV. More than half of all sexually active Americans will have one version of this virus at one time or another. It is possible for someone to have the virus for years without having symptoms. Routine testing is important as HPV can cause genital warts and some cancers.
Condoms can lower the chances of contracting HPV when used properly and every time sex occurs. HPV can be spread through sexual intercourse, anal sex, oral sex and with simple genital to genital contact. The virus can infect the mouth and throat through oral sex.
There are also vaccines that prevent common types of HPV. Cervarix and Gardasil are the vaccines that can be used for women, while only Gardasil is available to men. The shots for women also protect against cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is rare but extremely dangerous. Each year about 12,000 women are diagnosed while 4,210 women die each year from it. If not caught early enough, the chances of treatment working and survival is significantly decreased.
HPV can cause other cancers as well, some even more rare than cervical cancer, including vulvar, vaginal, anal, penile and some head and neck cancers. About 17,300 cancer cases a year are caused by HPV.
While the vaccine route is a good idea, there are some risks that accompany that choice. Although rare, some have become sick and a few deaths have occurred as a result of the shots. If you are interested in receiving the shots, do some research and talk to your doctor about the risks before you make an appointment.
This information, and more on HPV prevention and cancers linked to HPV, is available at www.cdc.gov/hpv/index.html.
Bailey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.