The Human Papillomavirus, also known as HPV, is the number one sexually transmitted infection (STI) among both men and women in the United States. Despite its prevalence, much misinformation and myths surround this virus. In this blog post, we aim to shed light on the truth about HPV, dispelling common misconceptions. Continue reading to see common HPV myths debunked.
Myth #1: I do not have multiple sex partners therefore I am not at risk for HPV.
Fact: About 85% of people will get HPV in their lifetime. 2 Individuals infected with HPV may unknowingly carry and spread the infection even in monogamous relationships.
Myth #2 : I use condoms therefore I am not at risk for HPV.
Fact: When used appropriately, condoms can be used to prevent the spread of common STIs. Nevertheless, condoms offer limited protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like HPV that are transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. Thus, condoms do not provide absolute immunity against HPV infection.
Myth #3: Those infected with HPV present with symptoms.
Fact: The majority of individuals infected with HPV remain unaware of their infection and never experience any symptoms or health complications arising from it. In 90% of cases, the immune system is able to clear the HPV infection within two years.1
Myth #4: All strains of HPV cause cancer.
Fact: Among the 100+ HPV strains, 13 strains are linked to cervical cancer (most commonly), and cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and some head and neck cancers (less commonly). 3
Myth #5: You only contract HPV through sexual intercourse.
Fact: HPV is primarily transmitted through intimate skin-to-skin contact, thus the virus can spread even in the absence of sexual intercourse.
Myth #6: There are treatments for HPV.
Fact: Currently there is no cure for HPV virus, however symptoms associated with HPV (ie. genital warts) can be managed under a provider. The HPV vaccine is a great preventative measure to protect against HPV-related cancers. According to the CDC, vaccination is recommended for those between 11-26 years old.
Myth #7: The HPV vaccine promotes promiscuous behavior among teens.
Currently, there is no research evidence to suggest that the HPV vaccine induces or encourages sexual activity among teens and preteens.
Myth #8: The HPV vaccine may cause medical problems.
The HPV vaccine has proven to be safe by the FDA and a successful method in preventing HPV-related infections and cancers. Like any vaccine, the HPV vaccine can potentially cause side effects. However, the vast majority of cases side effects are mild, such as soreness at site of injection.
Myth #9: You got the HPV vaccine, so you can skip your Pap test.
False! Despite its efficacy, the HPV vaccine does not protect against all strains that cause cervical cancer.
Because of the high prevalence of HPV, navigating the facts of this infection may be overwhelming at first. Please do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with us to go over any of HPV-related questions and concerns, we are here to support you!
- STD Facts – Human papillomavirus (HPV). Published December 20, 2022. Accessed July 26, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpv.htm
- Why Get the HPV Vaccine. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published March 18, 2022. Accessed July 26, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/hpv/parents/vaccine/six-reasons.html
- Basic Information about HPV and Cancer | CDC. Published October 24, 2022. Accessed July 26, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/hpv/basic_info/index.htm
- Human Papillomavirus Vaccine Safety. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published December 22, 2022. Accessed July 26, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/vaccines/hpv-vaccine.html
About Dr. Peggy Roberts:
Dr. Peggy Roberts is a board certified, New York licensed Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner. She has spent over a decade caring for women of all ages. She has extensive experience in preventative medicine for women, high-risk pregnancies, other medicine and aesthetics.
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