Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is one the most common sexually transmitted infections (STI) but that doesn’t mean everybody understands or even knows about it. According to the American Sexual Health Association, the misconceptions and myths surrounding HPV can cause a person to suffer unnecessary anxiety, undergo avoidable treatments, or even to doubt their partner’s faithfulness.

We’ve compiled a list of the most common myths and misconceptions that surround HPV using articles from ASHA and Everyday Health.

  1. HPV is a rare disease and only affects women.

Public awareness about the virus is very low, and most people have never even heard of it! In fact, the CDC reported that most sexually active men and women will contract at least one HPV infection during their lifetime. Since it is not something we talk about, people who are diagnosed with it fail to share their diagnosis with others because they feel nobody will be able to relate. Only 1 in 4 Americans among the age of 15-49 have not had a genital HPV infection. All sexually active individuals can contract HPV.

  1. Only people who have casual sex can get HPV; therefore, your partner cheated.

A higher number of sexual partners has a strong correlation with a higher risk of contracting HPV because you are more likely to have a partner who is a carrier of the virus. However, people in long-term relationships can also contract HPV. The virus can linger for weeks, years or a lifetime in someone’s body without presenting any symptoms or abnormalities. Hence, an HPV diagnosis only means that your partner (or you) contracted the virus at some point during his/her life.

  1. Condoms means you won’t be exposed to HPV.

HPV spreads through genital skin-to-skin contact and condoms fail to cover all the genital area in both men and women. The usage of condoms can significantly lower your risk of contracting HPV, but there is still a chance you could be exposed to the virus.

  1. All HPV strains cause cancer.

Not all strains of HPV cause cancer. Strains are divided into “low-risk” and “high-risk” strains. The “high-risk” strains have a stronger association with cancer. It’s important to keep in mind that contracting a “high-risk” strand doesn’t mean you are at risk of getting cancer.

Having HPV is not something you should be ashamed of. It can happen to anyone. If you’ve been diagnosed with HPV and would like to learn more about your condition and current enrolling research studies, click the button below to learn more.

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