This is the second question I've received over thepast few months about human papillomavirus HPV , and as I said in my July 9column, both the general public and the medical community are often misinformedabout HPV because research about the virus is evolving so quickly. I don'tthink that your friend's doctor would deliberately lie to a patient, but I dothink that he or she was wrong. Doctors are human just like the rest of us, andunless the doctors themselves are part of the LGBT community, they often havethe same level of ignorance about lesbian sex that other people do. It's a commonmisconception that women who have sex with women are not at risk for sexuallytransmitted infections STIs , and if you add confusion about HPV to thosemyths, you have a recipe for incorrect information.
Lesbians have the lowest risk of getting human immunodeficiency virus HIV due in large part to the types of sexual activities they engage in such as oral sex , which are less commonly associated with the infection. However, that does not mean that lesbians are, in general, less susceptible to other types of sexually transmitted infections. Not only do sexual minority women often believe they are at less risk for HPV than heterosexual women, but they may be less likely to receive preventive care such as vaccination and screening. Penile penetration is not required to spread HPV; all it takes is skin-to-skin contact with an infected person. The virus can be transmitted through intimate skin-to-skin contact, such as mutual masturbation an activity that carries a negligible risk of spreading HIV. HPV can be passed between two women as easily as between two men or a man and a woman.
Debunking the Myth That Lesbians Aren’t at Risk for Cervical Cancer
Human papillomavirus HPV infection and associated cervical disease are common among all women, regardless of sexual identity, yet limited research has examined HPV vaccination among lesbian and bisexual women. We used multivariable logistic regression to identify correlates of HPV vaccine initiation receipt of at least 1 dose and completion receipt of all 3 recommended doses among initiators. HPV vaccine initiation was higher among respondents who: were students, had received a healthcare provider's recommendation, perceived greater positive social vaccination norms, or anticipated greater regret if they did not get vaccinated and later got HPV.
Lesbian and bisexual women are up to 10 times less likely to have had a cervical screening test in the past three years than heterosexual women. Related: HPV vaccine might lower risk of oral cancer for young men. HPV can be passed via body fluids and can be transmitted through oral sex, sharing sex toys, or even by hands or fingers. Related: Why do patients with HIV have higher rates of cancer? Four out of five cases of cervical cancer could be prevented with regular screenings, which is why professionals urge anyone with a cervix between the age of 25 and 64 to be screened for HPV.