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Women have more concerns about this than men because of our society’s exist double standards.”Not only do they often face disproportionate stigma, but also disproportionate responsibility.“I feel women in general with sexual health are the canaries in the coal mine when it comes to heterosexual relationships,” says Jane.In the hierarchy of medical issues that carry stigma and fear, HPV has a unique place.While not considered remotely as “scary” as Ebola, MERS, or HIV, it is still a sexually transmitted infection.According to the CDC, 79 million Americans currently have it. Most sexually active American men and women will have it at some point of their lives, though they may never know it.
Most Americans know of the virus from either the controversy surrounding the vaccine—especially when the ever-helpful Michele Bachmann piped up—or Michael Douglas’ claim that it was responsible for his throat cancer.
Lost in the controversy were some very important considerations, such as the high cost of the vaccine (0 for each of the three doses in 2013) and the fact that the vaccines protect against the HPV strains that cause 70 percent, not all, cervical cancers.
In fact, during the course of the reporting for this article, I encountered multiple women who had been vaccinated before becoming sexual active and still screened positive for HPV.
Boys are now starting to get inoculated, which is certainly a positive result of Michael Douglas disclosing how HPV negatively affected his health.
But while it got more Americans to realize boys should get inoculated against the virus, it also stoked a tremendous amount of fear that an HPV diagnosis was tantamount to cancer.
While these incidences increased the general public’s awareness of HPV, they didn’t bring calm or understanding. S., the news devolved into a puritanical debate whether girls as young as 11 should be inoculated against an STI because, heavens to Betsy, they have sexual contact one day.