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HPV Myths Shade Healthy Future

What is one of the most common cases in a gynecologist’s office? Human papillomavirus, or HPV, says Dr. John Bertrand, an OB/GYN at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that about one-fourth of women younger than age 60 are infected with HPV at any given time. What most women don’t know is that the immune system can suppress the virus (in most cases), eradicating the need for costly vaccines and taxing “mental trauma,” says Bertrand.

“The patient is usually petrified by the ‘call back’ and anguishes with the fear of cancer, loss of fertility and the incurable nature of the virus,” explains Bertrand. “I spend the most time negating these myths.”

Most cases of HPV are treatable, says Bertrand.

As to how a woman’s immune system can suppress the virus, he compares the situation to chickenpox. “Before the vaccine, most of us had the virus with the common pox outbreak. Only very few of us broke out with shingles, even though the virus was harbored for a lifetime,” he explains. “This may not be a cure in the real sense, but it certainly comes very close.”