By Kennedy Shelley
One of the most common sexually transmitted diseases causes several types of cancers, and yet most sexually active adults don’t even know it exists.
Most adults think about AIDS or syphilis when they think about any sexually transmitted disease.
Cancer of the throat is not the first thing that comes to mind.
But that is what Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) can do.
HPV is so common that nearly everyone who has had sex with more than one partner has it.
Most of the time you may have it, and not even know it. It stays dormant in your system and disappears and never creates any problems.
But when it does, it causes cancers in the vagina, cervix, penis, anus, and throat.
HPV doesn’t cause any noticeable symptoms; condoms may not be 100% effective against it and you really don’t know it’s a problem until the precancerous cells show up.
That is why the Center for Disease Control recommends the HPV vaccines which has some effectiveness at stopping the spread of four forms of HPV.
There are actually over 100 different strains of HPV viruses and 14 are known to cause cancer. The vaccines only protect against 9.
The University of Texas asked adults what they knew about HPV and its links to cancer and the results were startling. The results were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics.
Two-thirds of men and 30% of women had no idea that HPV could cause cervical cancer.
Over 70% of the entire population had no idea that it could cause other cancers too.
The researchers said:
“In particular, the lack of HPV knowledge among adults aged 27 to 45 years and 46 years and older is concerning given that adults in these age groups are (or will likely be) the parents responsible for making HPV vaccination decisions for their children.”
But it’s not just the population at large that is not aware of this, apparently doctors do not talk to their patients about this.
Less than 20% of people have ever had their doctor mention HPV or the vaccine.
Most of the work on HPV has been focused on women’s health, particularly the detection and treatment of cervical cancer.
But men are just as likely to be affected by throat cancer from HPV which used to only affect smokers.
There really isn’t any defense against HPV. Married couples who remain monogamous may have brought an HPV infection into the relationship and may pass it back and forth for many years.
Once exposed, it generally goes away after several years.
But because there is no blood test for HPV infections, most people will not know they have it until signs of cancer start to show up.
While some will rightly say that this is why we need to bring morality to bear, it is a good reason to remind people that do care about their health that there are risks associated with sex with multiple partners.