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MYTHS AND FACTS

MYTH

I’m the only person I know with HPV.

FACT

HPV is common.²⁷

While many people diagnosed with HPV think they are alone,
that’s far from the truth!

An estimated 80% of reproductively active people will have HPV at
some point in their lives. Since most HPV infections have no symptoms,
a person who has been infected may never know about it.

MYTH

I am married, I don’t need to worry about reproductive tract infections (RTIs) or HPV.

FACT

Even married couples can get an RTI, just like HPV.²⁷

Even married couples or spouses with just one partner are at risk of
developing RTIs or HPV.

MYTH

If we have always used contraceptives, we are not at risk of getting HPV.

FACT

When they are used correctly, physical protection methods are highly effective. However, they are likely to be less effective when up against RTIs that spread through skin-to-skin contact, such as HPV.²⁷

Contraceptives cannot provide 100% protection against HPV.


MYTH

The HPV diagnosis can confirm when and where you got the infection.

FACT

Even after diagnosis with HPV, there is no way to pinpoint for how long a certain infection has been there.²⁷

The virus can remain in the body from anywhere between a few weeks, all
the way to an entire lifetime, without any sign of its presence.
An HPV infection may reveal symptoms, such as lesions, warts, or cervical
abnormities after months or years. Its ability to lie silent for all this time
makes HPV very mysterious.


MYTH

HPV vaccination is not safe.

FACT

The HPV vaccine is well-tolerated and does not cause any major health complications.²⁸

Similar to any other vaccine or medication, the HPV vaccine may cause minimal side effects (SEs), such
as soreness or redness at the injection site. Other common SEs may include low-grade fever, headache,
tiredness, nausea, or muscle/joint discomfort. These side effects are usually brief and short-lived. Allergic
reactions are uncommon, but if someone is allergic to any components of the vaccine,
they should avoid it.

Extensive research, spanning at least a decade, has been conducted
on the vaccine, and it is rigorously monitored by the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA).


MYTH

HPV vaccination can lead to infertility.

FACT

These claims are based on inaccurate evidence and are not supported by research or clinical studies.²⁸

A recent study of more than 200,000 women discovered no link between
the HPV vaccine and premature ovarian failure. In contrast, the HPV
vaccine can help protect fertility by preventing gynaecological issues
associated with cervical cancer therapy.


MYTH

HPV vaccination cannot protect against cervical cancer.

FACT

In the studies that led to the licensing of HPV vaccines, approximately 100% of participants were protected against persistent cervical infections.²⁸

Persistent cervical infections are caused by HPV types 16 and 18, as well
as the precancers associated with those persistent infections.
Furthermore, a research study of HPV vaccines in males revealed that
they can prevent warts.


MYTH

HPV vaccines were only tested against precancers, and have not been shown to prevent cancer.

FACT

Because HPV cancers can take decades to develop, the initial clinical trials were conducted using precancers as the endpoint.²⁹

Monitoring over more than a decade of vaccine use has found a
decrease in HPV-cancer rates in those who were vaccinated.


MYTH

The HPV vaccine doesn’t protect against enough strains of human papillomavirus to be worth getting.

FACT

The current HPV vaccine protects against nine different forms of HPV.²⁸

These nine HPV types have been linked to more than 90% of cervical
tumours and other warts and cancer diagnoses. This immunization is
extremely effective in preventing this very widespread viral illness,
as well as warts and cancers.


MYTH

HPV is uncommon, and it’s unlikely I’ll be infected, so there’s no need to get the HPV vaccine.

FACT

The most common RTI is the HPV infection.²⁸

RTIs accounts for approximately 14 million additional infections in the
United States each year. It’s so common that almost every adult will
be exposed to at least one strain of HPV at some point in their lives.
Over 80 million people in the U.S. are now infected.


MYTH

We have Pap smears, so why do we need HPV vaccination?

FACT

Pap smear testing can only identify cervical precancers, and does not address other HPV-related anogenital cancers.²⁹

Pap smears have been very effective at reducing cervical cancer rates in
the U.S. However, HPV vaccination can prevent more cancers than just cervical
cancer and can also prevent the precancers that are detected via Pap smears. Pap
smears have not prevented any cases of cervical cancer, but
merely served as a mechanism to treat high-grade lesions with no impact
on cancer development.


MYTH

The HPV vaccine is unnecessary because most people clear HPV infections naturally.

FACT

For HPV infections that do not clear, there is also often a rapid development of HPV-related cytological changes and genital wart development.²⁹

While the 90% clearance estimate represents a substantial proportion
of HPV infections, things need to be put into perspective. Even if 90%
of the cases are cleared by the immune system, there will still be
millions of people with persistent infections that could progress to
cytological abnormalities.


MYTH

11-12 years of age is too young to vaccinate.

FACT

HPV vaccine showed a high immune response at earlier ages.²⁹

Clinical trial data has documented that receipt of HPV vaccine prior to
15 years of age results in HPV antibody titers approximately 2x higher
than when vaccination is provided at 15 years of age or older.