Truth: According to the CDC, as of 2015 there are over 150 strands of viruses which fall under the label HPV. The majority of the strands do not cause any known effects. Some strands cause a variety of types of cancer while other strands cause warts.
Myth: HPV is only contracted through intercourse.
Truth: HPV is so easily contracted it can be transmitted through skin-to-skin intimate contact. Remember way back before you were sexually active and you thought "oh, it didn't go in so I am still a virgin" OR "that didn't count as sex"...well HPV is so easily transmitted you could contract HPV without having intercourse!
Myth: HPV only causes cervical cancer.
Truth: Of the over 150 strands of the virus which fall under the label of HPV only some cause cancer. Some strands can cause genital warts, these strands are different from the strands that cause cancer. There are strands, many strands, which don't cause any symptoms. There are high risks strands, which there is a vaccine to prevent, which cause cancer. Fact, these strands don't only cause cervical cancer but are also linked to vaginal, vulvar, throat, anal, and penile cancers.
Myth: Only promiscuous people get HPV.
Truth: I know more than one woman who had never had sexual intercourse before marriage, yet she contracted HPV which ultimately developed into cervical cancer. This is not a virus that only promiscuous people get. As we learned above, it is passed through skin-to-skin intimate contact. According to The Cleaveland Clinic, 80% of the population will be infected with HPV at some point during their life.
Myth: Condoms prevent HPV 100% of the time.
Truth: Since HPV isn't contacted through the sharing of bodily fluids I am sure how you can see that condoms are not 100% effective at stopping the spread of HPV. Obviously, they help minimize contact, however, they are not 100% effective at stopping the spread of HPV.
Myth: HPV is always cleared by your body and will always go away on its own.
Truth: Many individuals can clear HPV on their own and will not need any further treatment. Strands of HPV can lie dormant in your body and, if not active, will not be detected using the HPV tests which are available. High risk strands don't automatically mean the strand will develop into a serious issue. I think this is important to note, my doctors told me for years that my abnormal paps were probably not something to worry about and most people could clear the virus on their own without medical intervention. It is important to advocate for yourself and ask to go on a more frequent testing schedule if you are having abnormal Paps or have tested positive for HPV.
Myth: There is a cure for HPV.
Truth: There is no cure for HPV. However, there are multiple preventative vaccines available which can prevent the known high risk strands. I will be doing a post for #CCAM about myths and truths of the vaccine as well.
Myth: Positive HPV means you will definitely develop cervical cancer.
Truth: A positive HPV test or abnormal Pap does not mean you will automatically develop cervical cancer. It does mean you need to check in with your OB-GYN more frequently. It also means you should be aware of your body and watch for concerning symptoms.
Myth: If you have HPV, there is no way to know which type of HPV you have.
Truth: There is a screening test available, to women, which can identify if you have high risk or low risk strands of HPV. You can ask for this test. This test is recommended if you have Pap test abnormalities or as a co-test once you hit 30 years of age.