Volume 94, Issue 7


Student killed in accident

"O" what a successful week

J.W. Little struck by ENG 04 graffiti

Name on time, but field a little late

Students bring the big bucks to town

All's quiet on the Western front

Just when you thought you could have safe sex


CUPE taking on Harris' Tories

New campaign seeks $270 million

Planet Me

Just when you thought you could have safe sex

By Sean Maraj
Gazette Staff

It's called human papillomavirus, better known as the sexually transmitted disease HPV and according to a recent study, if you're a woman there's a 75 per cent you'll contract it in your life time.

The study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, entitled Survey of HPV in Ontario Women, has produced some startling findings, as HPV can lead to cervical cancer in women, the second leading cause of death from cancer among women.

The survey conducted by McMaster University and the Father Sean O'Sullivan Research Centre, has painted a bleak picture for women and HPV.

"It was two papers," said John Sellors, the lead researcher of the study and a professor in the faculty of medicine at McMaster University.

"One paper is a population based survey in women between the age groups of 15 and 49. Thirty-two family physicians, randomly picked women – we painted a picture of how many women in different age groups are affected by HPV."

According to Sellors, the survey discovered that 17 per cent of women aged 15-19 have HPV, while the highest group – the 20-24 age group has an infection rate of 24 per cent.

But while the infection rate may be high, Sellors was quick to add the disease is not as detrimental as it sounds.

"The [total percentage affected] is about 80 per cent, most of us get rid of it, but one of 20 women don't get rid of the infection – it depends on their immune system," Sellors said. "Women gradually become negative as their immune system kicks in and recognizes it."

Meg Mclachlin, head of cytology at the London Health Sciences Centre, also noted chances of men catching HPV are just as high as with women.

"Since most people have it, it's easily passed on. Rougly 20 per cent of women have HPV and a very small per cent goes on to have cervical cancer," she said. "The virus is a very common STD. If that many women have it, that means that the same amount of men have it. It's just easier to detect in women."

Jen Foxworthy a fourth year Western sociology student, said although she was aware of the statistics from a human sexuality course she had taken, she said she was alarmed at the chances of contracting HPV.

"You just have to be smart about it [practicing sex]," she said.

While the incidence of infection may be high, Sellors noted that HPV, with the proper vigilance, can have no serious impact on a woman's life.

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