Lately, daytime television airways have been flooded with ads aimed at elevating awareness about HPV as the causal agent for cervical cancer. HPV, or Human Papilloma Virus, has been identified in nearly all cases of invasive cervial cancer. These ads show women visibly incredulous to learn that a virus causes cervical cancer. And they talk about wanting to tell people, and about needing to talk to the doctor about decreasing risk factors for getting this virus. It’s very compelling…a cancer that is caused by a virus!
But what these ads don’t mention is something that could save a life (in the future!) today. No one needs to talk to the doctor to find out how to decrease risk factors for getting the virus. I’ll tell you right here. You get HPV through sexual contact. HPV is an STD (sexually transmitted disease). What these ads should be telling women is this…
Wait. Abstain. Be monogomous. This will dramatically reduce your risk of getting HPV. But they don’t. The ads make it sound like you catch HPV like you catch a cold or something. An irresponsible approach at best. Viscously and purposefully misleading at the worst.
Not everyone who contracts HPV will go on to “get” cervical cancer. It appears that a trigger is required. That trigger has not been identified perse’, but it appears that HPV in the presence of chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhea, or HIV (all STDs) seems to activate the oncogenes for cervical cancer. That could just be an incidental or coincidental finding, but all of the above are completely avoidable through abstinence. Becoming sexually active before the age of 17 also increases the risk of contracting cervical cancer.
Don’t assume if you know someone with cervical cancer that they have lived risky sexual lives. Not 100% of cases can be definitively linked to HPV and HPV is often “silent” and someone could be exposed to it by an unwitting partner. This is not about judgement, this is a call to the media to call it like it is and to not whitewash a very serious health risk to women!
(Click here for a good general overview of cervical cancer)
You want to make sure you pretty much eliminate the risk of getting cervical cancer?