A few days ago I had the pleasure to meet a lovely guy with whom I was lucky enough to spend the night. Before anything even started to happen he told me that he’d recently contracted HPV. I was incredibly impressed that a) he’d been so upfront/honest with me, and b) he’d managed to tell me before I’d told him my HIV status.
So we had a chat about our various issues, both starting and ending with H and ending in V but all in all quite different conditions. Although I thought I was quite clued up on Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) I really didn’t know all that much about HPV. He explained a little, as did I about HIV.
Yesterday, being the curious soul that I am, I decided to do a little research into HPV. I’ve heard it mentioned here and there, especially into vaccinating school girls but that’s about it. I did some googling, I spoke to a sexual health nurse and my HIV consultant and below are some of my findings.
- HPV (Human papillomavirus) is the virus responsible for warts.
- There are currently 120 known strains of the virus.
- HPV is the most commonly transmitted STI in the entire world, (second in the UK behind Chlamydia)
- Approximately 80% of the population will contract a genital strain of HPV in their lifetime, with the 20-24 year old age being the most prevalent, although most will not show symptoms.
- Condoms provide some protection, but not complete protection as they do not cover the entire genital area.
- The human body will clear most HPV infections within 2 years naturally.
- Worldwide 5.2% of all cancers can be traced back to the HPV virus (largely anal and cervical cancers)
I asked my consultant whether I should get vaccinated against HPV and he told me that I’d have to pay to have it done privately as I don’t fall under the current NHS vaccination remit – and that it’d likely be wasted money as he’d bet I’ve already been exposed to at least one strain in the past.
It’s amazing such a common virus, one that will reach approximately 80% of us at some point is so unknown isn’t it?
Just another reason to go get checked eh? For more information check out the NHS page on HPV
All the best,