It was great to see that the first International HPV Awareness Day was announced by the International Papillomavirus Society yesterday (4th March 2018).
This day has been launched as part of the society’s commitment to raising awareness of HPV, and aims to promote progress on HPV prevention, screening and management of HPV related diseases.
HPV is ‘human papillomavirus’. It is a sexually transmitted virus and there are around 200 types of HPV. Most have no visible signs, although some cause genital warts. The most deadly types cause cervical, oral, anal and penile cancers.
It’s important to realise that HPV can affect anyone – all races, nationalities, ages, genders and sexual orientations. In fact, did you know that over 80% of people will be infected by HPV at some point in their lives? Many people with HPV have no visible signs and yet may still be at risk of getting cancer.
It only infects skin cells and is spread through skin-to-skin contact. The HPV types that infect the genital region and throat are spread through sexual contact.
The International Papillomavirus Society asks that you take the following steps to reduce your risk of getting HPV:
1) Get vaccinated to prevent HPV infection if you are eligible for the vaccine or if your health care provider thinks you might benefit from it
2) Use condoms, which can reduce (but not eliminate) the risk of getting HPV
3) Reduce the number of sexual partners that you have
4) Get screened for cervical cancer if you are eligible. Apart from identifying pre-cancers, HPV screening is sometimes carried out at the same time
5) See your health care provider if you are concerned that you have genital warts or other signs of HPV infection
6) Stop smoking (as smoking tobacco increases your risk of getting cervical cancer, and also makes it harder to treat abnormal cells on your cervix)
At Honour Health, our dentists carry out an oral cancer check as part of your comprehensive dental health assessment. It is really important to see us regularly, so that we can pick up on any changes or developments in your mouth as early as possible.
For further information about International HPV Awareness Day, including a very informative FAQ section, visit http://www.givelovenothpv.org/