HPV, or the human papillomanvirus, an STD that can cause cancer, isn’t just spread through sex! Stay safe: read this…
If you ever needed a reason to book your Pap test, here’s one: 7 735 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year in South Africa, according to the ICO Information Centre on HPV and Cancer.
What!? It’s not just spread through sex…
Cervical cancer is also the number-one ranked cancer in women aged 15 to 44 and HPV (human papillomavirus), which is transmitted not only by sex, but also skin-to-skin contact, causes 70 percent of cervical cancers. Eep! Been enjoying a bit of skin-on-skin with strangers? Get thee to a clinic for a test.
What are the symptoms?
According to global healthcare leader MSD, in most cases, HPV goes away on its own and doesn’t cause any health problems. But… when HPV doesn’t disappear, it can cause health problems such as genital warts (cringe) or other related cancers.
1. Genital warts
These usually appear as a small bump or groups of bumps in the genital area. They can be small or large, raised or flat, or shaped like a cauliflower. A healthcare provider can usually diagnose warts by looking at the genital area.
2. Cervical cancer
Cervical cancer usually doesn’t show symptoms until it’s quite advanced, serious and hard to treat. It’s vital to get regular screenings, which spot early signs of disease so problems can be treated early, before they ever turn into cancer.
3. Other HPV-related cancers
These might not have signs or symptoms until they’re advanced and difficult to treat. They include cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus and oropharynx (cancers of the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils).
The good news?
Women up to the age of 45 can now be vaccinated against HPV – and men up to the age of 26. Even if you’ve had HPV, studies show that being vaccinated reduces the chance of recurrence. Chat to your doc or gynae about getting the vaccine!