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The human papillomavirus or most commonly known as HPV is perceived by many as a woman's health issue. Being the most common sexually transmitted virus worldwide, it's about time that men are included in the equation. 

Guard against HPV, an advocacy campaign of MSD in the Philippines, hosted a press conference recently to raise awareness and to promote measures for prevention of contracting the virus.

“The discussion about HPV is often tied to cervical cancer. We have to remember that HPV infections are sexually transmitted,” said Dr. Mary Ann Escalona, Country Medical Lead of MSD in the Philippines. “By putting HPV back to the conversation on overall health, we can make better decisions that can help protect us and our loved ones from HPV-related diseases.”

Am I safe from HPV?

HPV is a viral infection that is transmitted between people through skin-to-skin contact. While intercourse is not necessary to get infected by the virus, those who are sexually active and have more than one sexual partner are most likely to contract it.  There are two risk types of HPV strain -- the low risk strains mostly cause warts while the high risk strains develop into cancer.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 85% of people get infected by HPV at one point in their lives. Infections may go unnoticed because symptoms may appear only after many years. But even without symptoms, those that carry HPV can still spread it to others.

HPV Management


Guard Against HPV advocates taking action as a crucial step in combating HPV in the community. 

“We all have a role to play in the fight against HPV,” Dr. Escalona said. “As parents, we need to guide our children properly so they know how to be responsible for their health. As spouses and partners, we need to keep ourselves armed with the right information on how we can keep ourselves at the peak of our health, how to avoid infections, and how to prevent spreading diseases. This way, we give each other a chance to thrive without worrying about disease.” 

Experts recommend proper use of condoms to reduce intimate skin-to-skin contact which may lead to HPV exposure. However, HPV can infect other areas not covered by a condom, and so condoms do not fully protect against HPV infections. Committing to a mutually monogamous relationship also helps lower the risk for HPV.


The Department of Health recommends that women must also undergo a pap smear three years after their first vaginal intercourse, then followed by a pap smear test every year for the next three years. If results are negative, the test can be done every two to three years.
 

Who should get vaccinated?

HPV in men usually doesn't exhibit any symptoms. There are some who may develop genital warts while some strains can cause penile, anal, and even throat cancer.  In women, it is sometimes difficult to see the warts since they develop inside the vagina, in the cervix, and inside the anus. The most common type of cancer in women caused by HPV is cervical cancer.


Even children are susceptible to HPV. That is why HPV vaccination is also available to help provide protection against infections, especially for children starting at nine years old before they become exposed to the virus in later life. Parents can consult their pediatrician to learn more about HPV vaccination for their children.



“We all have a role to play in the fight against HPV,” Dr. Escalona said. “As parents, we need to guide our children properly so they know how to be responsible for their health. As spouses and partners, we need to keep ourselves armed with the right information on how we can keep ourselves at the peak of our health, how to avoid infections, and how to prevent spreading diseases. This way, we give each other a chance to thrive without worrying about disease.”

Your family doctor can perform the vaccination. For men, you can consult your urologist if you feel more comfortable while women can discuss HPV with their gynecologist.

Learn more about HPV by following https://www.facebook.com/guardagainstHPV