HPV epidemic

Sep 222003
Authors: Natalie Plowman

Human papillomavirus.

Some college students may not be very familiar with these two

words, but they may need to be since 70 percent of students on

campus have it, according to university officials.

Some students may not even be aware that they are carrying the

virus because it can take months or years for its symptoms to

become visible. The virus can be identified by genital warts or can

be picked-up on a Pap smear.

“Probably about 70 percent of the college population is positive

for HPV,” said Sharon Kennedy, a nurse practitioner at Hartshorn

Health Center.

HPV can be spread through genital, anal or oral sex, although

condoms can help reduce but not eliminate the risk of contracting

the infection, according to the Planned Parenthood Federation of

America, Inc. Web site.

Susan Wolfelt, department head of the Women’s Clinic at the

health center, said there are several treatment options for


“There are some topical things put on, there are some acid

treatments, sometimes we freeze (the warts),” Wolfelt said.

HPV can also be revealed on a Pap smear and can require further


“If HPV shows up on a Pap smear and it’s also associated with

other cellular changes, most people recommend having some further

tests done,” Wolfelt said.

However, further action may not be required for cervical

lesions, which are abnormalities on the cervix.

“Over 70 percent of patients will clear cervical lesions on

their own,” Wolfelt said.

The treatments vary in discomfort, cost and the amount of time

required to treat. This is dependent on the number of lesions and

their locations.

“Have really open conversation with your partner before you have

sex,” Kennedy said.

She said this is a way of being cautious to prevent contracting

the virus.

“I think it’d be cool to raise awareness about it,” said

sophomore Natalie Townsend, a mechanical engineer major. “It’s

quite unfortunate that 70 percent of our campus has it.”

The visit to the health center is free because it is covered by

student fees. Treatment costs will vary.

“Sometimes people have it and may not even be aware of it,”

Kennedy said. “Call the health center and tell them you need to

make an appointment for an STD check. It’s usually just a physical





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