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Fear vs. Facts: Coping with an HPV Diagnosis

Fear. Anxiety. Hopelessness. Guilt. Shame. Sadness. Anger. These are common feelings experienced at the time of an HPV diagnosis. However, if you have HPV, it is important to know that you will not always feel this way.

Take a deep breath and let’s look at your emotions, meeting each one with facts that will prepare you for the future reality.

  • Fear, anxiety and/or worry. It is okay to feel anxious about a new, possibly difficult situation in your life. Acknowledge the fear, and then explore the truth about what you’re facing so that you can do so with confidence.
    • Many fear the possibility of cancer. Yes, there is an established link between HPV and cancer. However, there are more than 100 strains of HPV and only a small handful are linked to cancer. Early detection and successful treatment of precancerous and cancerous conditions are the norm. Continue to regular screenings and talk openly with your doctor about risks.
    • Others fear that genital warts will prevent a normal life. Some research indicates that 3 out of 4 sexually active people will have genital HPV at some point in their life. The vast majority of these people go on to lead complication-free lives. For those that do develop persistent external symptoms, there is hope. Please explore our website and contact us to schedule a conversation.
    • Many fear telling their partner. The perception that the person with HPV has been unfaithful is a myth. The HPV virus can go undetected for many years; meaning those in a committed, monogamous relationship can have and transmit the virus to each other. Being equipped with the facts, remaining calm and planning well for the conversation makes it less difficult.
  • Guilt and shame. Though education on sexually transmitted diseases has reduced the stigma, individuals with HPV often report feeling guilty and ashamed of their condition.
    • Remember, it is not your fault. As previously discussed, HPV is extremely common among sexually active people of all ages, genders and sexual orientation. It can be transmitted when no symptoms are present. Finally, the virus can be transmitted even when using protection such as condoms. These factors make it extremely difficult to eliminate the risk.
    • This is your news. You are not required to tell anyone whom you do not wish to know. While you may need to or choose to tell your sexual partner before resuming sexual activity, the information is yours to keep private.
    • You are not alone. If you do choose to tell others, you are likely to find that there are many who have been in your shoes. As mentioned before, HPV is extremely common, impacting around 75% of the population at some point.
  • Sadness, anger and hopelessness. Any time our expectations don’t match up with reality, there is a potential for sadness or anger. Accept these feeling, acknowledge your disappointment and have a good cry . . . or a scream. Once you’ve finished, look for the thoughts behind the feelings. Can some of be calmed with the facts explored here? If you’re feeling hopeless, please know that your situation is anything but. Continue to talk with trusted people who have been there. Explore our website for more information. If you need treatment for the external symptoms of HPV, contact us to schedule a free conversation. There is hope and help for you.