Three quarters of Irish adults don't fully understand what HPV is, new study shows
The virus will likely infect every sexually active man and woman at some point in their lives.
Three quarters of Irish adults don't fully understand what HPV (Human Papillomavirus) is, a new study has shown.
75% of men and women in the country have displayed a lack of awareness around the incredibly common sexually transmitted disease, highlighting a need for awareness around the virus.
The research, carried out by Behaviour & Attitudes and commissioned by MSD Ireland, shows that while the majority of people don't understand the disease, a considerable number also don't believe that they could ever contract it.
84% of people believe it’s unlikely they have ever contracted or had the virus, with 25% of people believe it is impossible that they have ever had the virus.
Just 2% of people know that HPV is very common.
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease, likely infecting every sexually active adult at some point in their lives.
Most cases have no symptoms and clear up on their own, however if the virus persists it can cause HPV related cancers such as cervical cancer and anal cancer in women, and anal cancer in men.
It can also cause cancers in the vulva and vagina, throat cancer, as well as genital warts.
The research shows that almost one third of people (32%) are unaware that HPV is transmitted via intimate skin-to-skin contact, while one in five (21%) believe that the infection cannot be transferred from one person to another.
However, the research did show a 17% increase in awareness that HPV can affect both men and women.
CEO of the Marie Keating Foundation, Liz Yeates, says that it is encouraging to see HPV awareness increasing, but that the findings show there is clearly work still to be done.
"Each year in Ireland, up to 130 people die from cancers caused by HPV," she says.
"Without a doubt it is ensuring a high uptake of the HPV vaccine in boys and girls and ensuring the availability of excellent Cervical Screening for women that will have an impact on reducing this figure."
This September, both boys and girls will be given the HPV vaccine for free in Irish secondary schools.
The vaccine, administered during first year, will protect against cancers caused by the HPV virus, and genital warts in adulthood.
The vaccine is provided at this age because this is when the response to immunisation is best.
Cerviva spokesperson Dr Cara Martin said that Irish adults need to be aware of HPV to best protect themselves, as well as their children.
"Whilst we have cervical screening for the early detection of changes in the cervix, there is no screening for other HPV-related cancers," she says.
"The best chance we have of eliminating these cancers is to prevent the primary infection through vaccination. We would strongly encourage parents to get the facts and be HPV aware."