While HIV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in South Africa, there are many others which are just as dangerous, for example Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) English recommendation form.
HPV is a highly contagious STI which causes genital warts in both men and women. Left untreated, there is the risk of it developing into cancer, notably cervical cancer in younger women.
What are the signs of HPV?
Unlike other STIs, HPV often shows no symptoms, so many people who have the disease don’t even know they have it! Other than genital warts, it’s very difficult to know if another person has HPV, so we recommend you go for full-spectrum tests every 6 months or when you have a new sexual partner. And while there is currently no cure for the disease, there are treatments available which target the health problems associated with the disease.
How does HPV spread?
All sexually active people, whether they are in a relationship or not, are at risk of contracting HPV. Condoms greatly reduce the risk of transmission, but you need to know that HPV can also be spread by kissing or performing oral sex on someone who has HPV.
Ways to prevent HPV
Very importantly, there is a HPV vaccine readily available which prevents women from contracting the infection, preventing future infections and eliminating the possibility of cervical cancer later in life. This vaccine is suitable for both boys and girls, however it is mainly used on girls between the ages of 9 and 12 years. Two doses of the vaccine, given a few months apart, are required to ensure maximum protection.
Speak to your doctor or healthcare worker to find out more about the HPV vaccine.