Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection. Unfortunately, misconceptions and stigma surrounding HPV often overshadow the facts. In this article, we aim to provide you with accurate information about HPV, promoting a healthy understanding and dispelling any unwarranted shame or embarrassment associated with the infection.
Separating the facts from the fables
1) HPV: An Inevitable part of sexual contact:
HPV is the most prevalent sexually transmitted infection, with approximately 80% of sexually active individuals expected to encounter it during their lifetime. It’s important to understand that HPV doesn’t discriminate based on sexual practices or preferences.
2) Almost Everyone Encounters HPV:
At some point in their lives, nearly every person will have HPV on their skin, even without engaging in sexual activity. It’s important to note that HPV is not solely transmitted through sexual contact.
3) HPV: It’s Okay, You’re Not Alone:
Most people either have had HPV or will contract it, and that’s completely normal. There’s no need for shame or stigma. In 70% of cases, the virus clears within one year, and in 90% of cases, within two years.
4) Often Harmless and Symptomless:
In the majority of cases, HPV infections are harmless and don’t cause any noticeable symptoms. This means that most people with HPV may not even know they have it. The immune system typically clears the infection within a few years.
5) Potential Complications:
While many HPV infections go unnoticed, some can result in genital warts and abnormal cell changes. These abnormalities can, in rare instances, progress to various types of cancer, such as cervical, vulvar, vaginal, penile, anal, and oropharyngeal cancer. Regular screenings and prompt medical intervention can help detect and manage these complications effectively. This is why it’s super important to go for your regular cervical screenings to pick up if you’ve come into contact with high risk strains of HPV.
6) Shared responsibility:
Partners in a sexual relationship will inevitably share HPV. Due to its common occurrence and the absence of symptoms in most cases, it is challenging to determine which partner transmitted the infection or when it occurred. Open communication and mutual support are vital in understanding and managing HPV within relationships.