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HPV

The Truth about HPV

There is a lot of information to know about HPV. There are myths and there are facts. Make sure you know the truth about HPV before you make any decisions about your health.

Myth: HPV is a disease.

Truth: HPV is not a disease. It is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Many people do not show symptoms of the infection. Being infected with STIs, including HPV does not mean that the infected person will start to show signs of a disease. STIs are just as dangerous as a sexually transmitted disease (STD). The infected person is still contagious and carries the potential of a disease.

Myth: HPV vaccines are unsafe.

Truth: Getting vaccinated is very safe. Research shows that HPV vaccines are not harmful. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to monitor the safety of vaccines after approval. Side effects of the vaccine are rare and mild. These side effects include: Arm pain or redness where the vaccine was given, Dizziness, Fainting, Nausea and Headaches.

Myth: There is a cure for HPV.

Truth: There is not a cure for the virus. It usually clears itself up naturally within 2 years. Further treatment is needed if the virus does not clear up on its own. More than 85% of sexually active people will get HPV in their lives. However, lots of them may not experience symptoms. Remember, just because the infection may clear up, it can still result in more serious disease such as cancer.

Myth: Only women get HPV.

Truth: The majority of men who are sexually active will get the virus. Most research on HPV has been done in women. There isn't much information on men with the infection. You should know that homosexual and bisexual men are at a higher risk for the infection.  

Myth: Penetrative sex is the only way to contract HPV.

Truth: Skin to skin contact results in infection. You can get HPV by having any kind of sex with an infected person.  This infection is spread easily during anal or vaginal sex, but it can also be spread through oral sex or other close skin-to-skin touching during sex.

 

 

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Last Reviewed: Jul 13, 2015

Li  Li, MD PhD Li Li, MD PhD
Case Western Reserve University