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HPV. STI. STD. WTF?

Sometimes it’s hard to keep acronyms straight, especially when it comes to sex and sexual issues. So what, exactly, is HPV?

HPV stands for human papillomavirus, which is actually one of the most common STIs (sexually transmitted infections) in Canada and worldwide.

There are various types of HPV, and each can lead to different health outcomes. Some types can infect areas such as the hands and feet, while other types target the genital area and are transmitted during vaginal, oral, or anal sex, or during intimate skin-to-skin contact with someone who is infected.

It is estimated that as many as 75 per cent of sexually active men and women (it’s not gender-specific) will have at least one genital HPV infection in their lifetime, but most people with healthy immune systems will eventually clear the infection from their bodies. Of those infected, only a small proportion will go on to develop cancer. HPV DNA testing is available in Canada.

There is no cure for HPV, but many of the symptoms are treatable. Practicing safe sex reduces your chances of getting an HPV infection or another STI. There is no precise way to determine in which people HPV infections will persist, but for women, routine Pap testing is an important screening tool. There is no equivalent of Pap testing in males, so it’s more difficult to identify HPV, but it is common for infected men to have genital warts.

For more information, watch the educational video above from the good folks at BuzzFeed.

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