Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Voting and HPV

I hope you will all be out there today voting. Even if you vote for Mitt Romney (who I personally think is a Republican Puppet and will set back women's right 40 years or more) it is a good idea to allow your voice to be heard. I voted for Obama, I am not ashamed of this. I feel that expecting a man to clean up the mess it took Bush 8 years to saddle us with is unrealistic. My life has been improved since Obama became president and the lives of my children as well. So I am praying that Obama wins this election. Since everyone else is trying to tell women what their vaginas should be doing here is my contribution.

If you have a vagina vote OBAMA 2012!

Now. I want to talk about HPV. A really good friend of mine recently got diagnosed with HPV and had to have a LEEP look it up I don't have time to really explain just know its painful performed because her yearly physical showed abnormal cells on her cervix. My friend isn't a slut, she is an educated adult female who probably contracted it unknowingly from a partner who already had it, and also didn't know.

Human Papillomavirus (or Genital Human Papillomavirus) is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States. There are more than 40 different types of HPV and both men and women can get it. HPV is transmitted through sexual intercourse.

Many women and men are not as well informed about HPV as they should be. HPV can have little or no symptoms and, if lucky, ones immune system will cure the HPV in a few years. If not other things may appear as a result of the virus. HPV can develop into genital warts, and cancer. The type of HPV that becomes genital warts does not cause cancer as well; there is no cure for HPV, though there are vaccines.

Every year around twelve thousand women get cervical cancer in the USA; most of these are HPV related. This number does not count the women who contract other HPV associated cancers like anal, vulva and throat, or the men that have it too. There is an estimated 20 million people in America who have HPV and 6 million newly infected people every year. With these numbers it is safe to say that half of all sexually active men and women get HPV at some point.

There are several ways to prevent HPV. The most common ways are to wear a condom during all types of sexual intercourse and to limit the amount of sexual partners one has. The main way to prevent HPV is to receive the vaccination. There are two different vaccinations for HPV. Both vaccines require three shots and both work against the HPV that causes cancer. However, only one of the shots protects against HPV that causes genital warts.

There are some issues with the vaccine, however. For the vaccine to work the best it should be given to children between the ages of 11 and 12 and can only be given up to the age of 26. So, basically, if you are over 26 and either a) did not have the resources or knowledge to get the HPV vaccine, or b) it was not around when you were younger then you are out of luck with being vaccinated against this common STD. Other preventative measures that should be taken with HPV are, for women, to have their regular pap tests and do HPV DNA testing.

There is no cure for HPV. If one gets HPV there are treatment options. Genital warts can be removed and certain medication can be prescribed. Most doctors just recommend waiting; they usually will go away on their own. Since HPV is a virus, genital warts can return. Developing abnormal cells on the cervix is a different matter. Most treatments include freezing the abnormal tissue off, undergoing a LEEP, where a hot wire loop is used, laser treatment or a cone biopsy, all of which are painful, invasive procedures.

In the United State where HPV is so common it is depressing that there are not more large support groups for people who have contracted HPV. A major group is ASHA (American Social Health Association). They give information on not only dealing with HPV, but how ones boyfriend, husband, wife or girlfriend should handle a loved one being diagnosed with this STD. Many people feel that it is a sign of a partner being unfaithful, but this is inaccurate since it can take a long time for HPV symptoms to appear. ASHA also has links to personal stories of HPV to give hope and allow people with HPV to understand they are not the only ones. ASHA also has links to other state support groups like the Washington HPV Hope group.

Another large group that deals with HPV is the National Cervical Cancer Coalition. On the website one can learn even more about HPV, starting with the fact that January is Cervical Cancer Awareness month and how one can contribute to increasing awareness for this type of cancer. The NCCC stresses how 70 % of all women will come in contact with HPV. One can also find all the latest information regarding HPV.

In Utah, aside from ones personal doctor and the women’s clinics, there is not much in the way of information about HPV. There have not been any new screening requirements put in place and there is only 25 thousands dollars a year allocated to public awareness of cervical cancer. Utah Medicaid does cover HPV screening and the vaccination at 100 percent. Since Utah is a conservative state there have been many who try to link young girls getting the HPV vaccination with them becoming sexually active younger. Again, this is bull shit.

With the old fashioned abstinence only laws in Utah many parents do not get their children vaccinated. This correlates with the fact that state legislation ensured that any public awareness campaign had to include that “information about abstinence before and fidelity after marriage being the surest prevention of sexually transmitted diseases including the human papillomavirus." Ridiculous, again just because the vaccine has to do with something that is sexually transmitted does NOT mean it isn't as important as other vaccinations.

HPV is a serious threat to women, and men. In all communities there need to be more programs talking about sexual education and the use of birth control. Children need to be informed on how one contracts an STD and how to prevent it from happening. Abstinence only programs do not work. More funds need to be assigned for HPV prevention and awareness without conservatives becoming upset about whether giving a child a vaccine for an STD will make him or her deicide promiscuity is the way to go. STDs like HPV do not just go away without public health intervention. People need to take an interest in their own health care and the health care of their community.

Links about HPV:

American Social Health Association.

Centers for Disease Control

National Cervical Cancer Coalition

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