Dangers lurk behind HPV
“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 STD. There are more than 40 types of HPV. About half of sexually active American’s will have one version of this virus at one time or another. It is possible that someone has the virus without having symptoms for years. Because of this, routine testing is important. HPV can cause genital warts and some cancers.
Condoms can lower the chances of contracting HPV when used properly and every time sex occurs. This includes oral sex. HPV can be spread with sexual intercourse, anal sex, oral sex and with simple genital to genital contact. Through oral sex the virus can infect the mouth and throat.
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 with this cancer 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 rarer 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. Some have become sick while a few deaths have occurred as a result of the shots, but both are rare.
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 at www.cdc.gov/hpv/index.html.