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Full text of "The Gateway (2007-10-25)"

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mi: gateway . vnhimexcvni number 14 


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Eight out of 10 Canadians will be 
infected with HPV in their lifetimes 

- will you be one of them? 


Not if the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of 
Canada has anything to do with it. The SOGC is urging young 
adults to expose what lurks between the sheets in order to 
protect themselves against this highly contagious - and 
potentially dangerous - virus. 

HPV, or the human papillomavirus, is a common sexually 
transmitted infection. So common, in fact, that there are over 
100 different types of HPV. Most will clear on their own within 
two years, without you even knowing you 
had it, however some are more persistent 
and may lead to long-term consequences. 

Also, certain sexually transmitted strains 
can cause genital warts, and others can 
even cause cancer. The warts can vary in 
size and appearance, ranging from 
growths that look flat, raised, or even 
cauliflower-shaped. The swellings can 
sometimes be itchy, and if they're allowed 
to grow they can cause sores, bleeding, 
and can even block vaginal openings. 

You're probably thinking that someone 
would have to be pretty clueless to hook 
up with a partner who's covered in genital 
warts. But there's just one problem - not 
everyone infected will have symptoms. 

So, whether you're all about staying exclu¬ 
sive or playing the field, a partner can still 
pass HPV on to you without even knowing 
they have it. 

And as if the thought of genital warts 
isn't enough to kill the mood, other types 
of HPV are the number one cause of cervi¬ 
cal cancer. It's a serious disease - this year, 
about 1,350 women will be diagnosed 
with it, and another 400 will die from it. 

Condoms do provide a safety net 
against HPV, but they can't promise to be 
100% effective. This is because HPV 
spreads so easily that all it takes is skin-to- 
skin sexual contact for it to make the jump 
from one person to the next, and a 
condom might not completely cover an 
infected area. 

There’s too much of a risk involved to stay powerless against 
HPV. Up to 80% of Canadians will be exposed to it, many before 
they turn 26 years old, so why not make today the day you take 
charge of your sexual health? Since HPV infections can go 
undetected, getting regular Pap smears should be at the top of 
every young woman's to-do list. It's the best way of identifying 
HPV and catching early signs of cervical cancer before it's too 
late. 

Of course, prevention is just as important as awareness. In 
case you're not convinced, let's get into some more heavy 


numbers:The one and only option that provides close to 100% 
protection against HPV types 16 and 18, which cause about 
70% of cervical cancers, as well as types 6 and 11, which cause 
90% of genital warts, is the HPV vaccination. Medical experts, 
such as the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of 
Canada, recommend vaccination of all women aged nine to 26. 
But don't think that once you're vaccinated it means no more 
Pap tests. It's not a question of choosing one or the other - 


they're both important components in the fight against HPV. 
This year, more than 400,000 women will have an abnormal 
Pap smear, many indicating pre-cancerous conditions. 

Getting informed is another major component in keeping 
your body and your sex life healthy. This doesn't just go for 
young women, but young men as well. A recent study found 
out that less than a third of both men and women have ever 
heard of HPV. Rise above the statistics. Get all the facts at 
www.hpvinfo.ca and talk to a doctor about protecting yourself, 
and your partners.