HPV - Shouldn't we talk about it?
I really hate to do this, but...
as far as I could find, there was only one other thread here that mentioned HPV and it was extremely limited, and yet, people who are new to poly (especially those who haven't started meeting new partners yet) really might like to have this information. I know I wish I had.
So why don't we talk about it? I think that's probably pretty obvious. First of all, few people know much about it because we don't talk about it. Second, it's a virus that "everyone" has, can't really be tested, can't be treated, can't be traced, and (usually) goes away on it's own, so why worry about it? I get that. Totally. Believe me, I'd really like to not be worrying about it. But....
Here's the deal.... if you are a woman who is new to poly, like I am, AND you've been monogamous pretty much forever, AND you're older than mid-twenties (a pretty common demographic as people often move into this in mid-life after their kids are grown) you are suddenly going to encounter something that you may never have known existed before and this lifestyle quite suddenly catapults you into the highest risk group for some potentially nasty stuff. (Yes, the chances are relatively low for the population in general, but not that low for this demographic in this lifestyle.)
Yes, indeed, I'd love to not know this and I'm sure you would to. But we're about openness and honesty and giving other adults the information they need to make their own decisions.
So, I'm bringing it up. I don't believe in scaring people needlessly, but I do believe in honesty:
HPV is a large group of very common viruses that affect mucous membranes, that means genitals and mouths.
HPV is spread through skin to skin contact, that means condoms don't prevent it.
HPV is carried by a huge percentage of the population, especially those with multiple partners, and most never know they have it.
HPV infections that the body does not manage to fight off for a long period of time are the cause of cervical, anal, and some oral cancers.
The conservative and prudent advice given to women who are exposed to multiple partners who might carry different strains of HPV is that they get regular PAP smears so that any problems caused by HPV are detected early.
These are a few basic facts. There are many implications that people new to poly might want to consider when making reasonable decisions about managing their risks. Shall we talk about it?