The Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus that is spread by skin-to-skin contact during sex, or any intimate contact with an infected partner.
Did you know? 75% of sexually active Canadians will have at least one HPV infection in their lifetime. There are many types of HPV, and some of them can cause genital warts and cancer. Some types of HPV cause genital warts only and will go away on their own. But there are many types of HPV that can cause cancer of the mouth or genital areas.
To learn more about the signs and symptoms of HPV, visit HPVinfo.ca.
Anyone who has ever had sex (oral, vaginal, or anal) or other intimate contact with a partner is at risk for HPV.
How can I protect myself from HPV?
There is no cure for HPV. But there are still many ways you can take action to protect yourself:
- Get vaccinated. The HPV vaccine protects you from many types of HPV, including some that can lead to cancers. If you haven’t received it yet, you can make an appointment with your doctor or nurse practitioner, contact the Health Unit’s Vaccine Preventable Diseases program at (807) 625-5900, or visit Getting the HPV vaccine in Ontario.
- Practice safe sex. Use condoms, oral dams, or other barrier methods to provide some protection against HPV as well as other sexually transmitted infections.
- Have regular Pap tests. Pap tests look for changes in your cervical cells that could be related to HPV or other cervical cancers. Learn more at the Ontario cervical screening website.
- See your dental and health care provider regularly, and report and symptoms of HPV to them immediately.
- You can also visit the free TBDHU Sexual Health Clinic, which offers Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) testing, pap testing, sexual health counselling, and many other services.