Setting the Record Straight: 6 Common HPV Myths

Monday, March 2, 2020

HPV (Human Papillomavirus) is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States. However, some things you hear about HPV may not be true. Educate yourself with the facts below.


Myth: Only girls need to be vaccinated against HPV.

Fact: Both males and females between the ages of 9-26 should be vaccinated. Every year more than 9,000 men are affected by HPV-caused cancers.


Myth: A condom protects against HPV. 

Fact: The HPV virus is spread through any kind of skin-to-skin contact (including oral sex) with an infected person. While wearing a condom reduces risk, areas not covered by a condom can spread the virus. 


Myth: Getting the HPV vaccine causes girls to increase risky sexual behavior. 

Fact: A recent study by Queen's University found that receiving the vaccine does not give girls a false sense of sexual security. Parental concerns about the HPV vaccination and promiscuity are unwarranted. 


Myth: HPV is rare.

Fact: MOST people will be infected with HPV at some point in their lives. For most, the virus goes away on its own after several months. However, the infection can linger in your body for many years without showing symptoms before cancer develops.


Myth: HPV only causes cervical cancer.

Fact: While HPV is responsible for most cases of cervical cancer. it is also the leading cause of vaginal, vulvar, anal and penile cancers and causes a subset of cancers of the mouth/throat.


Myth: Getting one shot protects you somewhat. 

Fact: Vaccination is highly effective, but that effectiveness is based upon receiving all three shots of the vaccine series.


For more information, view the CDC fact sheet on HPV.