Did you know that HPV (human papillomavirus) is the most commonly sexually transmitted infection in the U.S. for both men and women?! Most people who are infected are not even aware that they are carriers.
At least 4 out of 5 women will have been infected with HPV at some point in their lives! That’s why it is very important to learn about HPV. Here are 5 things you should know and how they can help you become more informed and knowledgeable about HPV:
- HPV is Common. Although this is usually the number one thing most people know about HPV, it can sometimes be swept under the rug. The most common symptom of HPV is the appearance of warts on the genitals or surrounding skin and although this is true, HPV requires a proper medical diagnosis. Many people with HPV don’t show any symptoms at all but can still infect others through sexual contact. It is just important to know that everyone (even men) are at risk for HPV especially if they are sexually active.
- You Can Prevent/Lower Your Risk. The only sure way to prevent HPV is through abstinence. Limiting your number of sexual partners, using condoms, and even maintaining proper oral hygiene are important ways to lower your risks for HPV. But know that you can get HPV even if you don’t have “sex” by just engage in skin-to-skin contact. There is also a vaccine that can help prevent HPV.
- There are Many Different Types of HPV. Some types of HPV happen to be more serious than others but one of the most common causes and medical issues involving HPV are cervical and throat cancer. Low-risk types of HPV can cause genital warts and usually go away on their own whereas high-risk types of HPV don’t go away and can more often than not cause cervical cancer.
- Regular Check-Ups. It’s important for both men and women to see their doctor regularly. Women should get pap-smears either after becoming sexually active or after they turn 21 and getting checked for cervical cancer is another way to stay at a low risk for HPV. Although there is currently no way to test for HPV in men, there are still many ways men can lower their risks of getting infected along with women as well.
- There is No Cure. Although there is no cure, odds are you’ve probably had HPV at one point in your life without even knowing it. HPV is very common and you should know it is never necessarily your or your partner’s fault. What’s important is that you get treatment! HPV is also not the same as HIV or herpes. Sometimes it is assumed that they are familiar in the aspect that they are usually sexually transmitted and because there are no cures for either.
HPV is a very real thing for men and women all throughout the U.S. It’s important to be informed and take action. Although HPV usually clears up on it’s own and can go undetected for years, it is important to be safe and be aware of other ways to minimize your risks of the virus. There are about 79 million Americans currently infected with HPV 14 million become newly infected each year. Just remember that if you ever have HPV that you are aware of, it is nothing to be ashamed of and you are not alone.
Want to learn more? There will be 2 film screenings of the movie “Someone You Love: The HPV Epidemic” at Cortland Jr Sr High School on Thursday, April 21st from 6-7:30pm and another at the Homer Center for the Arts on Thursday, May 12 from 6:30-8pm. For more info call the Cortland County Health Department at (607)758-5523. View the trailer here.