Issues Of HPV

December 14, 2007

Maybe you have a friend who has just received a diagnosis of genital warts. Perhaps the one with the diagnosis is you. You now know that this symptom comes from an infection with the human Papillomavirus (HPV). But you don't quite know what to do with this knowledge. Are you still allowed to have sex? Can a condom really protect your prospective sexual partners against infection?

Can You Prevent HPV?

The answer is not very heartwarming. It seems that condoms can't give 100% protection against HPV, but they do make a difference. According to a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine in June 2006, when 100 women used condoms every time they had sex for one whole year, 37 of the women still got HPV.

There are two reasons why condoms don't always work. For one thing, condoms can break, and when that happens, there goes your protection. Then again, they need to be used as directed. Not everyone is careful to use condoms as they were meant to be used. Follow the instructions to be on the safe side of safe sex. But keep in mind that you can get HPV through any skin to skin contact and also through oral sex. Rubbing the genitals together or having anal or oral sex are all ways one can get the disease without sexual intercourse. Condoms offer limited protection against HPV because they are only appropriate for use during sexual intercourse.

Most of the time, men with HPV have no symptoms. So, let's say you have HPV, and you have unprotected sex with a guy. He may end up contracting HPV and carry it to the future women in his life without ever being aware of the fact. Because a man could become an unwitting vehicle for contagion, you need to have frank discussions with potential male partners about your virus and the need for careful condom use and careful sex.

No Immunity From HPV

Lesbians are not immune from HPV so if you're in a lesbian relationship, both of you should be tested for the disease. If you both have HPV and it's the same strain, there's no need for protected sex against this particular STD. It is important that both of you undergo regular Pap smears, about every half a year. If you're worried about your risk of catching HPV from a lesbian partner, you'll be interested to know that a study undertaken by the University of Washington's Department of Medicine discovered that of the 248 women who admitted to having had sex with a same-sexed partner, only 31 of them had Pap smears that were positive for HPV.

Still unclear is whether or not gay men with HPV can end up with anal cancer. Some doctors feel that gay men should have regular anal Pap smears to check for anal cancer. Merck, the manufacturer of the gardasil vaccine for HPV is now running trials on the effectiveness of the vaccine in preventing HPV in gay men.

 

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