While the US is facing a hard time with the coronavirus pandemic, increasing rates of STDs lurk behind the shadows, bringing the nation into a dark state. As the pandemic binds the residents to their homes, married couples and live-in partners get to spend more time with each other, thus having more sexual activities. The lack of testing has somehow given the nation a faint ray of hope as cases seemed to dwindle. However, recent HPV tests and reports show a massive increase in the rates of STDs that is alarming. Everybody without the HPV vaccine who lives an active sexual life may get the infection at least once in their lifetime. As common as it is, the infection may be treated by a healthcare professional that may be able to help take care of the issue.

What Is HPV?

The human papillomavirus, or HPV, is the most widespread STD in the US. It is a type of STD that can come and go away on its own. In some cases, it can linger on and cause various health complications. To test for HPV, a cell sample is usually collected to check if the cells carry high-risk HPV that may potentially lead to serious complications like cancer.

Tests conducted for HPV shows that there is a huge number of STD cases in the nation that needs to be controlled at the earliest. As of a 2018 report by the CDC, more than 43 million people in the US are infected with HPV. About 13 million new infections were recorded in the same year, showing an alarming increase in the rate of transmission. The majority of these cases are recorded in young adults in their early 20s and late teens. 

HPV has many types. Some are quite harmless and resolve on their own, but without proper treatment, some may lead to cancer. HPV spreads through skin-to-skin contact. The main mode of transmission is through sex, whether it is anal, oral, or vaginal sex. The symptoms of HPV can lay dormant for many years before becoming noticeable. This is why many people get the infection and get better without even being aware of it. 

HPV is highly prevalent in the US, and in most cases, they disappear by themselves without causing any health issues. But sometimes, it continues to stay in the body for prolonged periods. People with weak immune systems or those who suffer from HIV/AIDS have a higher chance of developing HPV because their bodies may not be able to ward off infections as effectively. Unresolved HPV can lead to health complications such as genital warts and, in some cases, cancer. The infection can cause cancer of the anus, penis, vagina, vulva, and throat. The type that causes cancers is different from those that cause genital warts. 

Curbing The Rate Of HPV Transmission

The number of HPV cases is only rising, which makes it necessary for every sexually active person to take action in curbing the transmission rate. While, in most cases, HPV remains benign and goes away, it is still important to double-check and get tested to stay on the safe side. A large number of STD cases in the nation are scary. There may be more undetected cases that can add a huge number to the existing rates. 

There are various measures that you can implement to control the high rates of HPV in the nation. The best way to do so is to receive a HPV vaccine. Before the introduction of HPV vaccines, about 350,000 American men and women were diagnosed with genital warts that are caused by HPV. Almost 12,000 women develop high-risk HPV, that is, cervical cancer. HPV can also lead to other types of cancers that affect an estimate of 12,100 men and 19,400 women. The vaccine is available for different age groups starting from age 9 through age 26. Getting routine screening for high-risk HPV is another crucial step to keep your sexual health in check. 

There is always a golden rule of using protection while having sex. The use of protection is necessary for decreasing the chances of getting infected with HPV or any STDs. Condoms are one of the most effective ways to protect you from STDs and thus minimize the rate of transmission. But they cannot be 100% relied upon. However, they significantly lower the chances of getting HPV or any STDs from sexual contact. 

Another way to minimize the spread of HPV is to limit sexual partners to one person. This is a great way to decrease the likelihood of contracting potential STDs from having multiple sex partners. 

High-Risk Groups

Although HPV is relatively common and can prove to be a deadly infection, many people have never heard of the disease. The majority of HPV cases are recorded in young women as of a study reported by the CDC. The study finds that about 14% of college females get genital HPV infections. The male population of the same age groups also witness a similar trend. 

More than 70% of people living in the US who are 18 years and above aren’t aware of HPV. Only about 10% of the US population talked about HPV with their healthcare providers. Unlike the common STDs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, the records of HPV aren’t reported formally in the US. However, according to the CDC data report, about 75% of the American population has been infected with HPV through sexual contact. 

People who have a weak immune system, multiple sex partners, or have an STD infection history, including HIV, are more prone to contracting the infection. People who have sex for the first time at an early age are also more vulnerable to getting infected with HPV. The best thing you can do to protect yourself from HPV is to get the HPV vaccine, aside from practicing safe sex such as using condoms and limiting sex partners. It takes all of us to collectively work together to drag the rising STD trend downwards.