81 percent of Irish people think it's unlikely they'll ever catch HPV
“The HPV virus is so common, most men and women are infected by it at some point in their lives."
81 percent of Irish people think that it's unlikely they will ever catch HPV, despite 80 percent of sexually active adults contracting the virus at some point in their lives.
New research has shown that almost one in five people do not know that HPV can cause cancer, while only 11 percent know that there is no treatment for HPV itself.
The study, conducted by Behaviour & Attitudes on behalf of MSD Ireland, also shows that over half of people think that HPV is ‘extremely rare’ or ‘quite rare’ in Ireland, while 28 percent of people say they didn't know how the virus is transmitted.
HPV is an extremely common sexually transmitted virus that can cause related cancers in both men and women.
It is thought that 80 percent of sexually active adults will contract the virus in their lifetime. Most HPV infections clear up on their own, but some can go on to cause cervical and anal cancer in women, and anal cancer in men.
130 people die from HPV related cancers in Ireland every year.
Dr. Robert O’Connor from the Irish Cancer Society says the findings prove a need for increased awareness around HPV in Ireland.
“The HPV virus is so common, most men and women are infected by it at some point in their lives," he says.
"In some cases, infection can lead to certain cancers. The findings demonstrate the continued need for HPV awareness campaigns to the general public, so they’re aware of just how prevalent HPV is and the risks associated."
CEO of the Marie Keating Foundation Liz Yeates says that while the survey results show that more people are aware of the virus, more work needs to be done to ensure that fewer people develop HPV related cancers.
"Without a doubt it is through 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," she says.
"What the findings from this new research suggest is that we must continue to build the public’s knowledge of HPV, what it is, how it is transmitted as well as ensuring that we have best in class cervical screening to eliminate HPV related cancers and disease in Ireland.”
This September, all boys and girls in Irish schools will be offered the free HPV vaccine as part of the National Immunisation Programme.
You can find out more about HPV and the vaccine here.