Most students have some basic knowledge of sexually transmitted diseases and their symptoms.
But what most students don’t know is that Human papilloma virus, the cause of genital warts, is widespread.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 76 percent of the American population have never heard of HPV, but at least 20 million people are infected with the virus.
Almost six million new cases of sexually transmitted HPV occur in the U.S. each year.
Despite the prevalence of HPV, it is often misunderstood. There are more than 70 different types of HPV.
Certain types of HPV cause warts on the hands or feet, and other types can cause warts on the genitals.
The virus is also linked to cervical cancer.
Symptoms of the virus can show up within a few weeks of infection or may never appear.
This alone makes it very hard to distinguish who infected you and whom you have unknowingly infected.
Although there are treatments for HPV, there is no cure for the virus. You can have the warts burned off and removed, but they will come back.
There are pills to treat the warts that help keep them from coming back as often, but the point is they will be back.
Treatments also will not keep you from passing the virus to someone else. Prevention is the best way to deal with this and all other STDs. You can reduce your risk of getting HPV or genital warts by practicing safer sex, and finding out about your partners’ sexual history.
People who have many sex partners are at higher risk of getting STDs. To keep from being infected all together, practice abstinence.
Latex condoms used the right way from start to finish each time you have sex, can help protect you but they are not completely effective. Spermicidal foams, creams and jellies work against some STDs, but are not proven to act against HPV and genital warts. For the sake of your health and your life, practice abstinence. It’s the only sure way to beat any STD.
Erica Dickens, 21, is a senior social work student from Miami. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.