With the CDC estimating that 50% of people will acquire HPV in their lifetime, the odds are pretty high that if you or your sexual partner have already been exposed to HPV and may be contagious, whether they know it or not. About 10% of women who are exposed to the HPV (with strains being labeled as simply genital warts) having the internal warts turning to cancerous legions that require various types of surgeries and other painful procedures to treat and limit the damage in the vagina – it’s a pretty serious issue. When I first started reading the news story about this new HPV study, I had thought I was reading about another vaccine that may be able to be used for men, not the case, but it does appear that this vaccine treatment is very effective in treating women for the harsh HPV after they have been exposed to it.
I am not sure why they are using the headline vaccine when the real promise here seems to be the ability to use this series of shots as a treatment. I am sure some of you are thinking oh not a series of shots, well compare that to having a surgeon go inside your vagina with scalpels and cutting away chunks of your cervix, or other surgeons / health clinics going in with freezing technology to freeze-burn off warts inside one of your most sensitive areas – and even those people who can afford the laser burn off treatments do not find them to be as comfortable as getting a shot I am sure.
I know several people who have had these kins of surgeries, and it’s not just the pain of the surgery itself, but it’s the months of painful healing, excessive bleeding and not being able to use tampons among other things that make this such a miserable treatment option. One of my good friends was so cut up by doctors that it is too painful for her to have vaginal intercourse, most likely ever again. She still can not take objects inside her uterus, even after two years of healing.
Of course every person is different, every person’s immune system is different, and different doctors are different with their treatments, so I must assume that not all women are butchered and ruined for life after going under the knife for painful HPV. There are also more than 55 types of HPV, and it makes a difference as to your diet, stress levels, smoking, all kinds of things – so don’t think your symptoms of treatment will be like someone else’s. Early detection may be a factor in this as well.
So this story about Dr. Gemma Kenter of the Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands is big news in my humble opinion. I hope this blog post will get people to think more about STDs and communicate about them, and also that we can help promote important research and treatments such as this. Of course if you are a female in the right age range you should get the vaccine that prevents many of the HPV strains in the first place – but also know that there are some people out there working on other treatments and we should help them any way we can, relying on vaccines for a small part of the population is not the best way to ensure happy sexual health for everyone.
Odds are one of the next two people you have sex with will have HPV. I do not believe that a condom will prevent it. There is no cure, just like herpes and HIV / AIDS. Please learn more about these issues and share with other adults who are or are considering being sexually active. The health clinic down the road from my place does not even test for HPV or herpes – so someone getting an STD checkup may not even be aware of an infection even if they have been checked for other common sexually transmitted diseases.