By Tamika Felder, cancer advocate and founder of cervivor.org
True or false: You can get HPV from using gym equipment? The answer is, well, complicated. Read on to get informed about HPV, which causes cervical cancer — and how it is and isn’t transmitted.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most common viruses in the world and should be something that is the topic of conversation not only with your medical provider, but everyone you know. Yes, it’s just that serious!
Recently, news just came out in a U.S. study that stated that HPV could be transmitted without penetrative sex, which isn’t that shocking because for years the medical community has been saying this: that HPV is spread skin-to-skin. But, here is what was shocking about the study — it claimed that HPV could be spread at the gym, on things like bicycle seats and, worse, your own doctor’s office (say, what?). Don’t be so quick to panic, though. As a global cancer advocate — specifically, cervical cancer, I want Singapore expats to know that there is so much more that you need to know.
First, there are more than 100 strains of HPV. Some cause warts on the hands and feet and others cause genital warts and certain cancers. So, yes, HPV should be on your radar, but there is no need to freak out. It is highly unlikely that you will catch HPV from your spin class.
Second, there is an HPV vaccine. Girls and boys ages nine to 26 should be vaccinated against HPV. Women should have cervical cancer screenings — Pap smear & HPV, specifically.
And then there is this… people are not always honest about sex. It’s still such a taboo topic, and there is no way to know that those who were surveyed were indeed virgins. There are also those who only think that sex is penetrative sex. Meaning, that if they had oral sex (risk factor) or any type of touching of genitals to genitals (again, risk!) so that already tips the scale on this study. What I am happy about is that this research will get people talking. So, here is what I want you to know.
- HPV is extremely common and you should vaccinate yourself or your children.
- Woman should begin Pap smear at age 21 and add an HPV test at age 30.
- HPV causes a lot of minor issues that almost always go away on it’s on, but it also does cause things like genital warts and HPV-related cancers like cervical, oral, vulvar, vaginal and anal.
So, your takeaway is to have a conversation with your doctor. Don’t put it off. Make sure you are protected from HPV by vaccinating and getting screened.
About Tamika Felder
Cervivor.org founder Tamika Felder is a cervical cancer survivor, global cancer advocate, speaker, purposeful living expert, writer, producer, host, world traveler, foodie, Pinterest addict and HuffPost contributor. She is working on her first book about her rules for life. She lives on Facebook /tamikafelder but also loves to play on Instagram and Twitter. She’s totally obsessed with Periscope and trying to figure out SnapChat. Connect with her at @tamikafelder and www.tamikafelder.com.