Top 5 Myths & Misconceptions about HPV

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#1 Myth: I’m the only person I know with HPV.

Wrong! If you have HPV you’re in good company because nearly 79 million Americans also currently have an HPV infection. HPV is the most common STI in the US and nearly 8 in 10 sexually active people will get some form of HPV in their lifetime.  So unless you live in a celibate community you can safely assume that nearly all the people you know have had or will have HPV at one point or another.

#2 Myth: Only people who have casual sex get STIs.

Nope, try again. STIs don’t care how long you’ve been in a relationship or how much you love your partner. They can be passed along as readily in a loving, long-term relationship as in a one-night stand. And HPV is the virus to prove it. At least one study of middle-class, middle-aged women, most of them married with children, found that 21% were infected with cervical HPV. In other studies, according to Nancy Kiviat, MD, a researcher at the University of Washington, about 80% of people who have had as few as four sexual partners have been infected with HPV.

#3 Myth: An HPV diagnosis means someone has cheated.

Unless your partner was living in a bubble prior to having contact with you, this just isn’t true and assuming your partner has cheated could ruin your relationship. The virus can remain in the body for weeks, years, or even a lifetime, giving no sign of its presence. Or a genital HPV infection may produce warts, lesions, or cervical abnormalities after a latent period of months or even years.

#4 Myth: Genital warts lead to cervical cancer.

No way! Most all genital warts are caused by HPV types that are virtually never found in cancer.

#5 Myth: If I have HPV, I will have recurrences.

Don’t be so sure. In 90% of HPV infections the patient’s immune system will clear the virus within 2 years; this is the case for most all people with well functioning immune systems. The good news for most people is that with time, the immune system seems to take charge of the virus, making recurrences less frequent and often eliminating them entirely.

 

(Image courtesy of Photostock, StockImages)

(see a full list of myths and misconceptions at http://www.ashasexualhealth.org/std-sti/hpv/myths-and-misconceptions.html)

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2 thoughts on “Top 5 Myths & Misconceptions about HPV

  1. These are very interesting observations. I was not aware that the virus could linger (undetected) for a long time. I always assumed that if you got it in a marriage that someone cheated.

    • Great comment Morris; you’re not alone in that assumption. One of the most devastating side effects of an HPV diagnosis can be the loss of a romantic relationship due to loss of trust because cheating is assumed to be involved. These mental/emotional side effects of HPV are what interest me the most and where the largest battle is still yet to be fought against deeply rooted societal stigmas and misinformation. Thanks for your contribution!

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