Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Stigma, HIV and cervical cancer

I have said this to a few people today in person and in email - so I thought I may as well write this here!

As for me it just proves how 'random' and unjustified the stigma against HIV is - and confirms to me how much this stigma about HIV HAS to stop

It really puzzles me that another, most often sexually transmitted disease - cervical cancer - i.e the more common type of cervical cancer - is not stigmatized while HIV and AIDs is??

Yet Cervical cancer is almost exclusively acquired by catching the virus HPV through sex with men !!!!!!

Yet HPV is not stigmatized like HIV in the same way at all!!.

Just as catching the HIV virus can lead to AIDs if not caught early and treated early, so can HPV lead to cervical cancer and this can often be fatal too -especially if not caught early!!

If you do not acquire HPV- which is exclusively acquired through sex with a male partner - you simply do not ever develop the most common type of cervical cancer ( the other is rare) . And exactly like HIV the chances of getting HPV is higher if you:

have sex at an early age,
have many sexual partners
have a partner who has had many sex partners
have sex with uncircumcised males
( Assumes your sexual partners are men as sex with women carries little if no risk of HPV)


If you are a woman this is exactly the same for HIV too!!
Yet no one stigmatizes a woman with cervical cancer

In fact far from it !!

They have been giving women cervical smears for years just in their own doctors surgery for cancerous changes caused by the HPV virus and they have now rolled out a program of immunization in Britain against the HPV virus for girls between 12 - 13 before they are sexually active - in recognition that they only get HPV from sexual activity!! And to try to stop women getting it at all

( I understand you can not immunize against HIV, but you could test routinely so that all people with HIV got treatment early as possible - as early treatment vastly increases your chances of a 'normal' lifespan)

To me it does not make any sense!!I want to make HIV as little stigmatized as cervical cancer!! And improve the recognition and treatment

Ironically I do not have HPV!! I have HIV but not HPV- So I will never get the common cervical cancer!!! But yes as I did get HIV, I could get AIDs

But if I had cervical cancer I would know that I would get nothing but sympathy from everyone and would not fear telling anyone that I have cervical cancer

( or even a bad smear test result, and a bad smear test result means that I have caught HPV though my sexual activity, but there is no stigma in this!!)

Yet if I get AIDs, I can not be so certain that I will not face stigma and prejudice!!!!

Yet the two are 'acquired' in EXACTLY the same way - there are far more with HPV than with HIV and actually cervical cancer, even in its late stages is a lot more 'curable ' than AIDs

Just a thought!!!!!

I am sure this has occurred to others - but it only occurred to me the last couple of days as ironically I found the results of my last cervical smear - which was of course clear as it always has been all my life!

As I have simply been lucky enough not to have been exposed to the HPV virus. It could of happened just as it has happened to many women, but it did not happen to me !!

But HIV did happen to me, I was simply not 'lucky' with HIV !!

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