Human papillomavirus or HPV, the primary cause of cervical cancer and the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States, has no doubt earned its share of media attention. Quiz yourself, do you know what is fact and what is fiction?
- Myth: Only Promiscuous Women Get HPV
Fact: Any woman who has had sex can have HPV.
Many people believe that only promiscuous women get HPV. But the truth is that any woman who has had sex, even with just one partner, could have been exposed to HPV. That’s because HPV is a very common virus. In fact, about eight out of 10 women will have had HPV at some point in time by the age of 50.1
- Myth: Men Don't Have to Worry About HPV
Fact: Men are just as likely to contract HPV as women. But, there is no diagnostic test that can accurately determine whether a man is carrying an HPV infection.
- Myth: If you have HPV, you will probably get cervical cancer.
Fact: HPV is very common. But cervical cancer is not.
The truth is that having HPV does not mean you have or will get cervical cancer. Most women will be exposed to HPV at some point in their lives, and for most women, HPV infections will go away on their own without causing any problems.
- Myth: Women with HPV will experience warning symptoms.
Fact: HPV infections usually do not cause any symptoms.
Many women think that if they don’t have warning signs, they certainly could not have HPV or cervical cancer. This is not true! Although some “low risk” types of HPV can cause genital warts, the “high-risk” types that are associated with cervical cancer often go completely undetected – that is, until abnormal cells develop. That's why routine screening with Pap and HPV testing is so important if you are 30 or older.
- Myth: If a woman gets the HPV vaccine, she no longer needs the Pap or HPV test.