I have HPV. I am sure I've mentioned that before; I'm not embarrassed by it. I'm not terribly afraid of it (right now I am more afraid of heart disease and diabetes...thanks, fatass me). From the numbers out there, pretty much anyone who has had sex with more than one person or has had sex with a person who's had sex with more than one person probably has HPV. They may not know it, especially if they have always had normal paps and had no reason to screen for it.
I found out I have HPV from abnormal pap results (dysplasia), and I became part of a study at the UW. I probably helped get this damn HPV vaccine developed and marketed simply by donating my urine.
The HPV strain that I have is wartless, which is nice. I have no genital warts, which HPV causes. Some strains, anyway. The strain I have (it has a number, but I can't remember which number) is one that tends to cause cervical cancer. My last two paps (in '00 and '05) were normal. yay! Normal paps mean that i don't have to go in every six months for a pap. yes, I was getting paps done every six months. The speculum and I are were good friends. I am so glad that guys get their prostates checked by having a dr stick a finger in their rectum because before that, a man never really had a degrading aspect of the yearly physical. Turn your head and cough? Puh-leeze! Try a cold metal torture device--that can actually pinch the vaginal wall if the examiner is not careful--jabbed in the vagina every year.
Oh, and I have a tricky cervix. The old tipped uterus/posterior cervix bit. My midwife said my cervix is so posterior that she's surprised I was able to get pregnant, but she was the first practitioner to not make me feel like a freak of nature. One ARNP at Planned Parenthood, where I used to get all my paps done until I actually had health insurance (which wasn't until I was 33), actually wanted me to get on my hands and knees for my pap.
Yes, my hands and knees-- because she couldn't see my cervix otherwise.
I didn't do it, and I actually never went back to PP again for a pap. I was pregnant at the time; the woman who did my pap was so rough and incompetent that it was just an embarrassing and miserable experience. Like, I think I even cried when I got home. I am not a crier, and I certainly don't cry over paps. Maybe the pregnancy thing had something to do with it. Anyway, I lost that pregnancy days after the pap. Like, within a few days-- close enough that I correlate the pap with the miscarriage.
Okay, I have gone waaayyy off my intended topic here.
The HPV vaccine.
When Wayne and I went to the Shins concert back in February, there were two girls in front of us who looked to be about 16 or so. One was telling the other that she was going later in the week to get the HPV vaccine, so she could worry less about unprotected sex. She then said that as soon as they come out with an HIV vaccine, she will get it right away because she will then be protected from bad diseases and can have sex with anyone however often without worrying.
Scary. I wanted to grab her and shake her and shove condoms in her pockets, but I restrained myself. I probably should have said something to her, but I really hope she was joking.
So I came across this blog entry about the HPV vaccine, and it is really good. Read it. I won't get my kids the HPV vaccine. If they choose to get it as adults, fine. Their choice. I am not going to have my kids be the first generation of guinea pigs for Merck. No thank you.
There. That was my point.