Almost HALF of women wrongly think they won’t catch HPV if they are in a long-term relationship, ‘worrying’ poll reveals

  • Some 1,500 British women were quizzed about their knowledge of the infection
  • Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, behind the survey, said the findings were ‘worrying’
  • HPV is known to cause 3,100 cases of cervical cancer in the UK each year 

Hundreds of thousands of women wrongly believe they won’t catch HPV if they are in a long-term relationship, a poll suggests. 

Some 1,500 British women were quizzed about their knowledge of the infection, thought to cause 99 per cent of cervical cancer cases.

Results showed almost half (48 per cent) don’t think they are at risk of the disease if they have been in a monogamous relationship for some time. 

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust described the findings as ‘worrying’, given it is known to cause 3,100 cases of the disease in the UK each year.

Some 1,500 women were quizzed about their thoughts on the infection, thought to cause 99 per cent of cervical cancer cases

Some 1,500 women were quizzed about their thoughts on the infection, thought to cause 99 per cent of cervical cancer cases

Roche – a pharmaceutical firm that carried out the survey – said it is important to bust myths surrounding HPV. 

Being in a long-term relationship does not remove the risk of getting HPV, which up to eight in 10 people will get at some point in their lives.

Symptoms can remain dormant for many years and both men and women can get reinfected several times during their life.  

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However, the survey also found around seven per cent think if their partner receives an HPV diagnosis they have been unfaithful.

While 17 per cent – and a quarter of over-55s – said they believe sexual promiscuity is the main risk factor for cervical cancer. 

Just over a fifth said they have no idea how HPV is transmitted and 52 per cent said they did not know that both men and women can be infected.

‘It is worrying to see so many myths and so much stigma regarding HPV,’ said Robert Music, chief executive of charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.

‘Increasing understanding about HPV, including what having the virus means, how it is contracted and how long it stays in the body, is essential.’

Vicki Bokor Ingram, cervical cancer lead at Roche, described the misunderstandings highlighted by the research as ‘dangerous’.

All schoolgirls in Britain have been offered the vaccine to protect against HPV at the age of 12 or 13 since 2008. 

However, from September the Government will roll out vaccinations for boys, after a landmark decision last summer. 

HPV is thought to cause around 2,500 cases of cancer in men each year and around 650 deaths, mainly from cancers of the throat and mouth.  

The survey also found 42 per cent of women believe they don’t need to be screened for cervical cancer if they have already been vaccinated.

Some 44 per cent admitted they had either delayed or chosen not to book a cervical cancer screening appointment after receiving an invitation.

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And around a quarter (26 per cent) of over-55s said they were unlikely to book an appointment following an invitation in the future.  

WHAT IS HPV? THE INFECTION LINKED TO 99% OF CERVICAL CANCER CASES

Up to eight out of 10 people will be infected with HPV in their lives

Up to eight out of 10 people will be infected with HPV in their lives

Human papilloma virus (HPV) is the name for a group of viruses that affect your skin and the moist membranes lining your body. 

Spread through vaginal, anal and oral sex and skin-to-skin contact between genitals, it is extremely common. 

Up to eight out of 10 people will be infected with the virus at some point in their lives.

There are more than 100 types of HPV. Around 30 of which can affect the genital area. Genital HPV infections are common and highly contagious.

Many people never show symptoms, as they can arise years after infection, and the majority of cases go away without treatment.

It can lead to genital warts, and is also known to cause cervical cancer by creating an abnormal tissue growth.

Annually, an average of 38,000 cases of HPV-related cancers are diagnosed in the US, 3,100 cases of cervical cancer in the UK and around 2,000 other cancers in men.

HPV can also cause cancers of the throat, neck, tongue, tonsils, vulva, vagina, penis or anus. It can take years for cancer to develop.





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