The most common Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) in the United States today is human papillomavirus (HPV). How common is it? Most sexually active men and women will get some form of HPV in their life, with an average of about 79 million Americans carrying the virus each year. Fortunately, HPV is rarely life-threatening, and though it has been linked to some forms of cervical cancer, this too is uncommon. Moreover, precancerous signs can be treated. In view of this fact, many doctors refer to HPV as the “common cold” of STDs. Because HPV is so common in the United States, and around the world, doctors usually never screen women for it until they are over the age of thirty. Unfortunately, no known HPV screening process exists for men, which is unfortunate as a study has confirmed that HPV is a risk factor for HIV.
The study linking these two STDs was performed in Kenya, a country where both HIV and HPV is very common. Research indicated that those with HPV, for various reasons, were 300 percent more likely to contract HIV. More surprising was this statistic was found to be true for both women and men.
It is perhaps to be expected that the likelihood of cancer resulting from HPV infections increases with each new exposure. One of the startling findings from this research, however, is the odds of contracting HIV immediately increases with only one infection of HPV. Therefore, if you are sexually active, it is highly encouraged that you receive an HPV vaccination.
This is important for a few reasons. First of all, there is no vaccine for HIV. So, anything a person can do to reduce the risk of contracting HIV is well worth it. Second, although an HPV vaccination is not inexpensive, this is nothing compared to the cost of cancer treatment, or of the daily cocktail of antiretroviral treatments that are needed to counteract HIV.
Hopefully, now that we know that HPV is a risk factor for HIV, it will encourage people to get vaccinated for HPV. This is a simple step that you can take to protect yourself, not only from HPV, but from the potential of contracting both cervical cancer and HIV.