A groundbreaking Canadian study of heterosexual couples has found that more than half of young adults engaged in a new sexual relationship were infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV).
Of this group of young adults, 44 per cent had the type of HPV that causes cancer, according to results from the HITCH Cohort Study — short for HPV Infection and Transmission in Couples through Heterosexual activity.
“It is a high number, but that number was not entirely unexpected,” said Ann Burchell, the study’s project co-ordinator and a post-doctoral fellow at McGill University’s Cancer Epidemiology Unit. “We know that HPV is a very common infection already, particularly in young people. We know that people are at a high risk of getting HPV just after acquiring a new partner.”
So you’re reading this thinking, “Oh, I’m probably fine since we always use condoms”? Think again.
The use of condoms generally reduces the rate of infection, Burchell said, but they don’t provide perfect protection.
“Even among couples in our study that used condoms all of the time, still more than 40 per cent of those men and women had an HPV infection,” she said.
There is no such thing as “safe” sex. There is only sex (with all its associated risks – and the fun bits, too), and no sex. I’m not saying young people should not be having any sex. I’m just saying they should be very careful who they’re having sex with.
Andrea adds: This seems like a good moment to advertise that Dr. Miriam Grossman, who as campus psychiatrist at UCLA has seen some of the mental health effects for young women engaging in risky sex, is coming to Ottawa on March 11. For more information, check here.by