At a meeting of cancer specialists at the University of Nairobi last week, reproductive health expert, Nelly Mugo, said that even as we take protective measures using condoms against most STIs including HIV/Aids, the rubber sheaths cannot provide 100 percent protection against the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).
“Condoms offer 60 per cent of HPV thus the virus can spread through skin-to-skin contact with infected areas of the skin not covered by the condom such as the scrotum, an*us, or vulva,” Dr Mugo said.
The 2016 African Demographic and Health Survey, released last week, shows that male condoms are the most popular method among sexually active unmarried women.
Unmarried men too seem to prefer condoms as the popular way of prevention but condoms are not really safe. Just stay faithful.
HIV might still be the most feared sexually transmitted disease, but it’s not necessarily the easiest to contract. Human papillomavirus is one of the leading killers of women worldwide—and a condom is only 60 percent effective at stopping it.
If sex ed classes have managed to teach anyone anything, it’s the power of the condom. Condoms are supposed to make sex safe—from pregnancy, from HIV, and from a host of other sexually transmitted infections.
The Condom Misconception.
But condoms have one huge failing that often goes overlooked: they can’t fully protect against the Human papillomavirus, better known as HPV. It doesn’t sound pretty, it doesn’t look pretty, and especially for women, HPV is a silent killer that can lie dormant for years unnoticed before it strikes.
The HPV Nightmare.
HPV is becoming the most commonly transmitted STI in the World. It’s actually a catch-all category for nearly 150 strains of similar viruses, many of which cause nasty looking
A Prolific Virus.
HPV is so common, almost all sexually active men and women contract it at some point in their lives. The virus is spread by intimate skin-to-skin contact, meaning that anywhere two bodies touch, HPV can be spread—which makes condoms only somewhat effective in preventing it.
Contracting the Virus.
HPV can be passed from person to person, even when the infected individual has no signs or symptoms of the virus. It can take years for any symptoms to show up after being infected with HPV, and some people never experience any symptoms at all.
Ties to Cancer.
HPV is none too pretty to look at, but for women especially, the virus can prove deadly. It’s closely tied with cervical cancer, which is a leading killer of women. Two types of the virus, HPV types 16 and 18, account for nearly 70% of all cervical cancer cases.
Danger to Women.
Women are also at a much higher risk of contracting the virus than men. Male-to-female transmission has a 5% higher rate of occurrence than female-to-male transmission.
It can be nearly impossible to tell whether or not a sexual partner has been infected with HPV. The only way to be 100% sure you don’t get the virus is to maintain complete abstinence—which means no kissing or even touching of anyone’s no-no parts.
Since abstinence isn’t always a possibility, health practitioners encourage regular testing for individuals with any sexual history and preventative vaccination for girls especially before they become sexually active. Monogamy and maintaining an honest sexual history also help prevent transmission.
The Harsh Truth.
79 million Americans are currently estimated to have HPV, and 14 million new cases occur every year. HPV is gradually make its way into Southern Africa with just less than 100 reported cases. Catch-up vaccinations are recommended for straight males up to age 21 and straight females and gay or bisexual males up to age 26.
The bottom line is, don’t cheat.