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Wart Virus – the ‘common cold’ of having sex. Don’t forget your Pap Screening Test

sexuality education Aug 26, 2021
Originally posted  

Finally, the new Cervical Cancer Screening Program has been launched today - see your GP for details of how it effects you. Over a decade ago, I remember working on research for this 'new test' and training doctors and nurses about it for the future, now it is finally here. The good news - people who have a cervix will have fewer pap tests in their life time! Yay!!! More information about pap tests here.

The sexually transmissible infection (STI) that causes genital warts and associated cervical changes (Human Papillomavirus or HPV) is part of sex because it so easily transmits by genital to genital contact (rubbing i.e. during penis/ vagina intercourse), usually without partners being aware that it happens. Condoms only partially protect, because of the skin to skin contact risk. That is why up to 80 per cent of adults will be infected at some point in their lives.

"It is thought that the majority of sexually active individuals will be exposed to HPV infections during their lifetime. Most HPV infections will clear spontaneously."
Melbourne Sexual Health Centre Fact Sheets

That's right - if you have ever had genital to genital contact with another person, you are likely to have had HPV in your life time, usually without symptoms. However, some people experience visible warts, some get changes associated with pre cancerous cervix changes and some people experience cervical and other cancers related to the HPV infection.

This is the sexually transmissible infection often referred to as the 'common cold' of sex, it is part of having sex, as it is so difficult to avoid. It is one of the reasons that sexuality education aims to empower young people to make decisions that will lead them to avoid genital to genital sexual experiences. Teens need to know about it so they can avoid it. In countries where teens get comprehensive sexuality information (such as STI prevention) - research shows they delay sexual intercourse to a later age.