There are many ways to adore a woman. You can buy her flowers and diamonds, lose three hours of your life by watching Twilight with her on date night, and you can immunise yourself against human papillomavirus (HPV). Yes, you read right: you can (and should) immunise yourself against human papillomavirus.
HPV… does that stand for Horrible Painful Virus?
No, it stands for the human papillomavirus. But for those unlucky people whose human papillomavirus infection led to cancers, HPV could indeed stand for horrible painful virus.
There are over 100 types of human papillomavirus 1, and about 40 types2 affect the genital area through sexual contact. However there are some types that are more dangerous than others. Human papillomavirus types 6 and 11 are known to cause genital warts in both men and women3. HPV types 16 and 18 are responsible for 70% of all cervical cancers in women4. They can also cause cancers of the anus, vulva and vagina1.
Sounds nasty! Will I catch it?
The bad news is, you probably will. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the USA, 1 in 2 sexually active men and women will be infected with human papillomavirus at least once in their lives6. Worse, many human papillomavirus carriers don’t show any symptoms of infection, so they may unknowingly spread the virus to their partners.
Like most sexually transmitted infections, HPV doesn’t care how many sexual partners you have had in your lifetime. It only takes one sexual encounter to catch it. In fact, there are many people who wait until marriage and have only one sex partner all their lives, only to catch HPV from their partner.
Did you say cervical cancer? Doesn’t this make HPV a woman’s concern?
For most men, human papillomavirus is on that list along with laundry and PMS: things we don’t think much about unless someone holds a gun to our heads. But it is something we should give our attention to since HPV can cause genital warts and anal cancer which can affect us directly.
Also, we can pass the virus to our partners. The worst case scenario would be your partner developing cervical cancer. This cancer is the third most common cancer among women in Malaysia3. Can you honestly say that you are comfortable with the notion that you could very well be subjecting your beloved to cervical cancer?
As for the best case scenario – if you can call it such – your partner may discover the human papillomavirus infection early through a Pap smear test, but saying that she wouldn’t be happy would be a massive understatement! Your relationship may take a turn for the worse.
Human papillomavirus is everyone’s concern, men’s as well as women’s. It’s time we guys man up and tackle the HPV issue for our women.
You’re right! It’s time we men call the shots on HPV
It’s easier to do this than you may think. There is a vaccine against human papillomavirus for men. Administered in 3 shots over 6 months, it protects you from the types of human papillomavirus that cause genital warts and cancer of the anus2. It also prevents you from catching and passing on the same types of human papillomavirus that can cause cervical cancer in your partners.
Therefore, vaccinating yourself against human papillomavirus isn’t just about protecting yourself – it’s also about protecting the woman you love.
If you need more convincing
Is there a better way to show a woman that you love and cherish her? Unlike flowers, the protection afforded by the vaccine to both you and her is far more long-lasting and meaningful. Did we mention that they are cheaper than diamonds as well?
If you have children, give them their human papillomavirus shots too. It would be one of the best things you can buy for their future as well as their future partners. 13-year old girls can get free human papillomavirus shots at school (as long as you sign the consent form), but you can get the shots for your boys and older girls at most private clinics as well.
This article is courtesy of Immunise4LifeTM, a community programme to promote awareness on the importance of vaccination against infectious diseases, and supported by Merck Sharp Dohme (M) Sdn Bhd. For more information, visit www.immunise4life.my.
- Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases: The Pink Book. 12th ed. CDC; 2012. p. 139-150. Available online from [http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/hpv.html].
- Gearhart P.A. (MD & Chief Editor), et al. Medscape Reference: Human Papillomavirus. Available online from [http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/219110-overview]
- National Cancer Registry, Malaysia. National Cancer Registry Report 2007.