Can lesbians contract HPV?
Many lesbians assume that they’re not at risk of getting HPV, since they don’t partake in sexual intercourse with men. Here’s why they’re wrong!
Yes — lesbians can contract HPV.
Let me start by explaining what HPV is, for those of you who aren’t quite sure. HPV stands for human papillomavirus, which is actually an umbrella term for over 150 different viruses. These viruses are categorized by type (more specifically, by the type of “warts” each of the viruses can cause – papillomas are warts), many of which are sexually transmitted.
This is where the common misconception originates. Because HPV is a sexually transmitted disease, many people assume that you have to have “sex” in the classic sense of the term (i.e. sexual intercourse) in order to contract it. But the truth is, HPV can be spread through any act that requires skin-on-skin contact. In other words, you can contract HPV when you partake in vaginal, anal or oral sex, or any other activity that includes genital-to-genital contact. You can also get it by sharing contaminated sex toys, and by touching yourself immediately after touching someone who’s infected.
Because many lesbians believe they can’t contract HPV, they’re less likely to get regular Pap tests. However, this simple procedure is an important part of any woman’s health care routine, and can be the key to catching HPV – and numerous other diseases, including cervical cancer – before they progress.
The bottom line? Don’t be fooled into thinking that you’re not at risk of contracting HPV just because you’re gay. Be safe, schedule regular Pap smears, and educate yourself on sexually transmitted diseases!