5 Things You Should Know About HPV
These 5 things you should know about HPV could benefit your health. HPV, or human papillomavirus, is a virus that is a member of the papillomavirus family and is able to infect humans. HPV has been in the news lately because of the FDA approval of Gardasil, a vaccine. Even with the recent news coverage, there are a lot of misconceptions about HPV. To protect your health, you should at least be informed about the basics of HPV.
- There is no test for HPV in men unless the virus has cause genital warts, which allows for a visual diagnosis. While in women an HPV infection can be shown in an abnormal Pap smear, there is no such test for men. Since many cases of HPV do not have symptoms, most cases of HPV in men are diagnosed in retrospect after the infections has caused series consequences.
- There is no cure for HPV. While HPV is a virus and some strains have series health risks, it is not something that can be diagnosed and then cured through medical treatment. You should protect yourself from HPV like you would any other sexually-transmitted disease (STD), which is to always have protected sex. The only 100% protection from any STD is abstinence.
- HPV is very common and there are many different strains. HPV is the most common STD, with an estimated 20 million Americans being infect. There are also over 250 different strains of HPV. Few of these strains have serious health threats. Some of the effects HPV can have are cancer and genital warts. Genital warts cause by HPV can be treated to control outbreaks but not cured. Many times with HPV your body sorts out the infection on it own but this is usually in strains where there are no visible symptoms.
- Sex with penetration is not needed to contract HPV. The virus is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. Studies have shown that HPV can be transmitted through oral sex, but it is less common.
- Gay men are not exempt from contracting HPV. A common misconception with many people is that HPV must come from a female. This is not true. Men can carry and unknowingly transmit HPV just as easily as women. Some studies have shown that gay men might even have a significantly higher risk at developing dangerous symptoms from certain strains of HPV.
For more information on HPV and to understand your own personal risk, you should consult your doctor.