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Protect yourself from HPV

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CORRECTION
Regarding the article “Protect yourself from HPV” that ran Feb. 14, Dr. Yolanda Reid-Chassiakos, director of Klotz Student Health Center, said “The HPV vaccine Gardisil provides immunity to four different strains of HPV, strains that can cause warts and increase the risk of cervical cancer. To date, vaccine testing for FDA approval has only included those ages 9-26, but further testing may expand this age recommendation in the future. The good news is Gardisil is recommended for women and man who have had unprotected sex and even have had HPV. That’s because even if you’ve been infected with one or two strains of HPV, you can still be protected from the others.”

Your palms are sweaty, you’re rocking back and forth in the chair staring aimlessly at the floor and you can’t seem to make your left leg stop shaking. It’s been two weeks since your last visit to the doctor. You’re there because you got a call saying your results were in and they needed to talk to you.

It could have been your last relationship or maybe it was that drunken night over the summer when you didn’t use protection that has put you in this position.  Maybe they had something they didn’t know about or maybe they just didn’t tell you.

That’s the case for millions of people in the United States when it comes to Human Papillomavirus, also known as HPV. According to the American Social Health Association, about 5.5 million new cases of sexually transmitted HPV infections are reported every year, but they estimate that roughly 6.2 million actually occur.

Even with such a prolific disease on our hands and one that can possibly lead to cervical cancer in women, we have not found a way to stem the tide.

The National Institutes of Health reports HPV is the most common STD today.  There are about 100 different types and about 30 types put women at risk for cancer.  Other types put both men and women at risk for genital warts.

According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, 50 percent of men and women will have genital HPV at some point in their lives. But even though 90 percent of strains will clear themselves over two years, there are basically no symptoms.  A lot of sexually active Americans have it and don’t even know it.

So how do you find out and do you tell people once you know you have it?

In 2008, an Iowa court found Dr. Alan Evans guilty of negligent transmission of the sexually transmitted disease HPV.  The case has undergone the appeal process once but the verdict still stands.

Evans, a dentist, argued that although he and his then-partner, Karly Rossiter, discussed whether or not they had any STDs before having sex, he was not aware he was carrying the virus.

Rossiter’s strain of HPV later developed into cervical cancer. She sued Evans and was awarded $1.5 million in punitive damages. The court found that whether or not Evans knew he had the virus or not was not the problem, but rather the fact that he had led her to believe he was disease-free and monogamous.

The court also argued that he should have known that he had HPV and genital warts.

However, according to the CDC there is no test for HVP other than to screen for cervical cancer. And what guy can get tested for cervical cancer when he doesn’t have the equipment?

So being there is no test, how does one know?

Well, you’ll know if you wake up one morning with a pasture of mini cauliflowers on your genitals, but many people never will.  More often than not, people will not know they are carrying it and are unwittingly transferring the disease to their partners meaning the only thing you can do is protect yourself.

There are vaccinations available for both males and females, available and effective only for people between 9 and 26 years old. The vaccination will not work if you currently have a strain of HPV at the time of the injection series, so the younger the better. One vaccine called Gardasil protects from cervical cancer and most strains of genital warts.

But if it’s too late for you, meaning you’ve already had unprotected sex or you’re older than 26, the only thing you can do is wrap it up or close your legs. Condoms don’t completely protect you from all strains of HPV, but according to the CDC, it protects you from most.

And the best protection is no intercourse at all until one is checked completely for the virus.

3 Comments

  1. Tina Johnson Feb 15, 2011

    One of the things that you should be aware of is that you are not alone. Millions of men and women have herpes. I have both forms of herpes I get an occasional outbreak on my lip and about once a year I have a genital herpes outbreak. http://www.HerpesLove.net is a great website that has made me whole again. I now have control of my condition and a great girlfriend. I now write articles in my spare about herpes. I think so many thousands of people are suffering alone the way I was and this is no way to go though life. Stop being depressed about it and take control of your dating life right now. Don’t live another day feeling like no one will date you because of your condition. There are millions of people who will date you with your condition so you need to take your life back.

  2. zhoulin Feb 15, 2011

    I have HIV and I am an engineer who works for the largest STD dating and support site STDslove. com. I have to tell you a secret, you can choose not to believe me. But the truth is that this site has more than 1,880,000 members and about 80% members are good looking in my estimation.

    Unfortunately, STD rates soar worldwide and most people with STDs don’t even know that they have them. The government should grant more money for STD education to lower the rates of STD transmission.

  3. Anonymous Feb 15, 2011

    Where to begin?
    >>>”can possibly lead to cervical cancer in women”…. and anal cancer in both sexes, and penile cancer in men, and cancers of the mouth and throat in both sexes. There are probably more. But please don’t make it sound like HPV only has severe consequences for women.

    >>>”30 types put women at risk for cancer” Cancer causing types put men at risk for cancer too – penile, anal, and mouth, throat, etc. It’s why the vaccine has also been approved to protect against anal cancer now as well. Same four strains, even more coverage than previously thought.

    “there are basically no symptoms” Cancer is a symptom, and so is pre-cancer. So yes, no symptoms, except for the hundreds of thousands of pre-cancer cases, full blown cancer cases, and cancer deaths from HPV per year in both sexes. And genital warts, which are more common than plantar warts, are also a symptom.

    >>>The court case you talked has been over for a long time. It was appealed twice and both times Mr. Evans lost. The Supreme Court of Iowa finalized this decision in early 2010. Is it too much trouble to google something like that? I did it and found the answer in about two minutes.

    >>>”So being there is no test, how does one know?” Being tested and showing symptoms are 2 distinct issues. If you are a man, you cannot get “tested” the same way a woman can, but if you have genital warts, you know for a fact that you have HPV. Period. There is no question, you have HPV. You can also have any of the cancers and the ties to HPV are strong. Almost all anal cancers are caused by HPV for example. And if you have been with a partner who has had a sign of HPV or tested positive, you know you’ve probably been exposed to the virus too.

    >>>You saying that the vaccine is “effective only” for those age ranges… Just because the FDA hasn’t broadened the age range doesn’t mean it’s not effective for people outside the age range. The vaccine is currently being tested on older people.

    >>>”The vaccination will not work if you currently have a strain of HPV at the time of the injection series, so the younger the better.” Wrong as to the first part, right as to the younger the better. The vaccine covers four strains. If you have one of them that it’s supposed to cover, it won’t do anything against that particular strain, but it would still protect you against the remaining three that you don’t have. Four different strains, four different things.

    >>>”But if it’s too late for you, meaning you’ve already had unprotected sex or you’re older than 26, the only thing you can do is wrap it up or close your legs.” First of all, just because you’ve had unprotected sex doesn’t mean you have HPV, and it definitely does not mean you still can’t get the vaccine and protect yourself like an intelligent person. Second of all, close your legs? What about men? Why is this written to go off on women? Why are you shaming women into celibacy but happily dismissing whatever responsibility men have to know their partner’s sexual health and history? You completely ignored cancer in men through the entire article. And then seem to have failed to make the connection that warts are symptoms. By the way, condoms aren’t much help at all since HPV is spread through skin on skin contact. If condoms do anything, it doesn’t make any difference as to the strain like you tried to say. A report made to the legislature said “All published epidemiologic studies of HPV have methodologic limitations that make the effect of condoms in the prevention of HPV infection unknown. While a few studies on genital HPV and condom use showed? a protective effect, most studies on genital HPV infection and condom use did not show a protective effect.”

    If you are going to write an article, try to get important facts straight. People might believe the things you got wrong and it could affect their decision to get the vaccine.

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