The human papillomavirus is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections across the globe today, which affects all genders, ages, and creeds. Any human who engages in sexual activity is at risk of contracting this infection. While treatable, HPV can lie dormant in the body for decades before revealing itself, and because this virus can spread while dormant, this makes ceasing the spread of the virus that much more challenging. Educating about safe sex practices and regular sexually transmitted disease testing can help slow the spread and sharing of the infection. Myths often prevent the sharing of factual knowledge, and this article dispels many of the most common myths about HPV.
The human papillomavirus, or HPV, is a common sexually transmitted disease that is rampant across the country. If you are familiar with the term, chances are you have been diagnosed and treated for this condition, or you know someone who has. Many people surveyed were unaware of the ways that HPV can be spread, or the dangers associated with the condition. When left untreated, HPV can lead to cervical cancer, genital warts, and other health issues.
HPV can be spread by means of any sexual contact such as vaginal, anal or oral intercourse with anyone who has the virus. The human papillomavirus can be spread when the infected person has no visible signs or symptoms of the disease. Anyone who is engaging in intercourse is at risk for contracting HPV. Due to the incubation time of days, to weeks, to months, it can be hard to pinpoint when you were exposed and infected.
There are vaccines and different treatment plans available for people who need them. The vaccinations are newer in nature and have not had the studies done with stead-fast reporting as of now. Being treated is key in stopping the spread of HPV and knowing the facts about this disease can help you to protect yourself the best that you can. These are the myths about HPV, and the facts to back up the truth.
Myth #1- Contracting the human papillomavirus is rare and will not happen to me.
Wrong! Just the opposite! HPV is extremely common! So much so that four out of five people will have the virus at some point in their lives. This is why educating about this sexually transmitted disease and others is so important!
Myth #2- HPV is something to be extremely worried about.
Not so! With over one-hundred types of the HPV virus and only a dozen posing a real danger for future cancers, this is a treatable sexually transmitted infection. In the more extreme cases, which are rare in nature, you will be monitored more closely to ensure that no precancerous cells are developing or growing. Smear tests are very important when dealing with HPV. So, while you should always worry about your overall health, you should not let HPV rule your life!
Myth #3- I will know if I have HPV, so I do not need testing.
FALSE! HPV often shows no signs or symptoms until the infection is spreading or has spread. By having regular testing for sexually transmitted diseases, you can ensure that you are catching any virus that may arise in time to treat and eradicate the infection.
Myth #4- Only people with multiple partners or that like to party too much can get HPV.
Entirely incorrect. Technically speaking, you can contract HPV with your first sexual experience. Having intercourse is the precursor that opens up your risk factors for this infection. HPV is passed through skin to skin contact of the genital area, so the more genital-on-genital contact you have, the better and higher your risk factors are of contracting the human papillomavirus. Because the HPV virus has proven it can be dormant for up to twenty years, it can be difficult after some time to note where you were exposed, and which partner it may have been. This is why informing all of your partners at the time of diagnosis is important to help stop the spread of the virus from spreading any further.
Myth #5- Only young people can contract HPV.
Not true. Because HPV is passed via skin to skin genital contact, anyone who has ever allowed their genitals to touch another human’s genitals could become infected with HPV. It is common in young people, as many are sexually promiscuous, which tends to slow down as we age. In truth, someone could have become infected in their twenties, and have no showing or visible symptoms until they are close to fifty years old. For these reasons, it is important to continue your sexually transmitted disease testing throughout your life.
Myth #6- I am too healthy to get the human papillomavirus. Only unhealthy people get this disease.
Unfortunately, anyone on the health spectrum wheel can be infected with human papillomavirus. This virus does not look for healthy or sicker individuals, only those who are engaging in sexual foreplay and intercourse. Sure, eating well, exercising and practicing safe sex can help your body fight this type of infection if and when you are exposed, but nothing except abstinence and not participating in sexual acts can prevent the infection in the first place.
Myth #7- If I use a condom, I cannot get infected with HPV or any other sexually transmitted infection.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. Unfortunately, condoms can not always protect you against viruses that can live on the skin around the entire genital area, and because condoms only cover the shaft and penis, this leaves much of the genitals uncovered and open to being exposed. This is the same for female condoms, as they do not cover the entire genital area. Now you might wonder, which type of protection can properly protect me against HPV? The sad answer is that nothing, except abstinence, can give you that protection.
Myth #8- Yes, I am a smoker, but that does not affect my risk for contracting HPV.
This is not entirely true, and not entirely false. Smoking affects the body and lowers the function of your immune system, which is necessary to fight against an HPV infection spreading at a faster rate. When cells in the body, or cervix, become damaged from the carcinogens that smoking brings, this can make it harder for the body to fight off the infection. Overall, smoking can increase your risk for developing cancers that can stem from the original HPV infection.
Myth #9- I got the human papilloma vaccination. I cannot get the infection now.
This is not at all true. If you received the HPV vaccination you are protected against what amounts to seventy-percent of the cancer-causing strains of HPV, but you are not at all fully protected. Testing and smear tests will remain just as important to you as those who have not been vaccinated. Check with the study results completed on these new vaccinations and educate yourself on their risk factors, side effects, and life-altering reactions.
Myth #10- HPV is a disease only for women. I am not a woman, so I am safe.
This is one of the top WRONG facts about the human papillomavirus! This infection is not gender specific and can infect any sexually active human at any time! Yes, HPV is one of the top causes of cervical cancer in women, but it can also cause penile, anal, neck and head cancers in males. All genders have these risks, even if they have taken the HPV vaccine. All sexually active humans should be aware of the risk posed to them with each new, untested sexual partner.
Myth #11- I have HPV. I will surely end up with cancer now.
This is not true! Diagnosed cervical cancers are over ninety-nine percent linked to the HPV infection, but that does not mean that all cases of HPV end with cancer. Most people who have some form of the human papillomavirus live with the virus and treat when needed, never developing any linked cancers or other health concerns.
The best ways to protect yourself against becoming infected with the human papillomavirus are to practice safe sexual practices with partners who have been tested themselves for all sexually transmitted infections. If you think you have been exposed to the HPV virus, schedule an appointment to begin testing and inform your doctor of your sexual habits and need for regular testing. It is always better to be safer rather than sorry in the future.