Love & Sex

New Study Debunks Myths About Which Gender Spreads HPV

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Girls might have given you the wrong impression.

Remember in the Girls episode, "All Adventurous Women Do," when Hannah finds out she has HPV and immediately walks over to Adam's house to point the finger at him? He claims there's no way he could have it because he's been tested. Later Elijah informs Hannah—aha—there is no test for men. The episode, apart from potentially disseminating a lot of confusing ideas about the notorious STD, also interestingly never calls into question whether or not Hannah might be the source of the disease. It's either Elijah or Adam. The gay dude from college or the moody carpenter who finds it physically impossible to adorn his lanky body with any kind of shirt. We never stop to think, "Oh wait, maybe it's not the guy spreading the human pap." 

A new study from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston has found that women are twice as likely as men to spread HPV, which is currently the most common STD in the United States. The researchers found that 18 percent of women with HPV spread it to their partner within a year of having it, whereas only 7 percent of men with HPV passed it along to their female partners. The study was unique in that it followed partners of all age groups, not just the youngins.

This is big news for the 79 million people (!!!) in the United States that are currently infected with HPV. Women are more likely to develop antibodies to HPV with age, but the cells also can stay dormant within her body, lurking around in the lining of her cervix. What these findings mean is that both women and men could stand to benefit from the HPV vaccination, even though we've only been hyping it to women since 2006. Gardasil commercials currently only feature supernaturally athletic women, but perhaps they could add in a skateboarding dude or two to reflect the need for cross-gender prevention? 

We're talking anal and genital warts, throat cancer, penile cancer, and cervical cancer here. It's bad news for both Hannahs and Adams. The blame game isn't important -it's on all of us to practice safe sex.

Image via Flickr.