mi: gateway . vnhimexcvni number 14
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
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
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.