FSRH supports ‘HPV has No Gender’ campaign by The Eve Appeal

Posted 6 September 2021

Date: 06 Sep 2021

Type: FSRH Press Releases and Statements

On World Sexual Health Day 2021, The Eve Appeal launched a campaign for everyone aged 16 and over to dispel the myths and stigma surrounding HPV, raise awareness of the virus and explain ways in which to prevent it. FSRH is pleased to be supporting this important campaign to share the truths around HPV.

Three in ten (31%) adults have never heard of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and 41% have a poor understanding of it, as found by a recent online survey conducted by YouGov, on behalf of The Eve Appeal, a gynaecological cancer charity.

Awareness of who HPV affects and what diseases it can cause was also very low, with about a quarter of people (23%) saying that they don’t know who HPV affects and only one in five (19%) aware that it can cause anal and throat cancers.

There are many myths surrounding HPV – for example that a condom offers full protection against it. There is also stigma and shame that surrounds the virus being a sexually transmitted infection which can prevent people taking measures to protect their health.

HPV is an extremely common virus that affects 80% of people at some point in their lives and is transmitted through skin-to-skin sexual contact – including anal and oral sex, mutual masturbation, and the sharing of sex toys. The virus itself is symptomless and usually the immune system clears it, so many are never aware they ever had it. Sometimes HPV doesn’t get cleared from the body and can lead to genital warts, head and neck, cervical, vaginal, vulval, anal or penile cancer.

All children aged 12-13 are currently offered a vaccine to protect against four key strains of HPV, including two ‘high-risk’ cancer causing strains, HPV 16 and 18.

People with a cervix aged 25 – 60 are also eligible for cervical screening on the NHS. When they receive their results, they will be told whether or not they have HPV in a letter and a HPV positive result can raise questions and feelings of anxiety.

There are many myths surrounding HPV – for example that a condom offers full protection against it. There is also stigma and shame that surrounds the virus being a sexually transmitted infection which can prevent people taking measures to protect their health.

Dr Asha Kasliwal, President of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH), said:

“The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) supports the rights of men and women, and boys and girls, to access high quality SRH information and services, regardless of gender or other factors.

We are pleased to be supporting this important and timely campaign by The Eve Appeal to share the truths around HPV.

Information on any aspect of sexual and reproductive healthcare, including HPV, must be evidence-based and non-biased. Myths, misinformation and stigma can prevent people from making informed decisions in relation to their healthcare. 

Through high quality, accurate information on HPV, we can equip people with the facts and help save lives.”
Athena Lamnisos, CEO, The Eve Appeal, said:

“We receive a high volume of questions from women receiving their cervical screening results who just don’t understand what HPV is, let alone what the impacts of an HPV positive result might be.

It’s frightening and more information is vital to dispel the myths, banish the stigma and increase understanding of how this virus works. It affects everybody, can be transmitted by everybody and could lead to a cancer in any body. HPV has no gender.”  
Dr Naomi Sutton, Sexual Health Consultant, TV Dr on C4’s Sex Clinic, said: 

"Too often I hear the words ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ used in my clinic when describing someone’s sexual health. Using these words promotes stigma and misunderstanding because sexual health has absolutely nothing to do with personal hygiene.

In actual fact the vast majority of us will carry viruses which are sexually transmitted, including HPV types and HSV (Herpes Simplex Virus) throughout our adult lives. Most people remain unaware that they have any infections because they don’t always cause symptoms but, it doesn’t mean they are not there.

Education is so very important to combat stigma and stop misunderstanding.” 


Notes to Editors:  

'A Guide to HPV: HPV Has No Gender' is available here.

The following organisations supported The Eve Appeal in the creation of the HPV guide: Brooke Sexual Health Charity, Sex Education Forum, Bowel Cancer UK, Sex Ed Matters, the Oracle Cancer Trust, Swallows Cancer Support.

MSD independently funded the HPV Has No Gender Guide. MSD had no input into the content or creation of the guide.

For press queries please contact:  
FSRH: Camila Azevedo, External Affairs Manager, at 07379408587 / cazevedo@fsrh.org

The Eve Appeal: Lydia Brain, Senior Communications Officer at 07535848471 / lydia.brain@eveappeal.org.uk

About the Survey:
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,220 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 13th - 15th August 2021. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

About The Eve Appeal:  
The Eve Appeal is the UK’s leading national charity raising awareness and funding research in the five gynaecological cancers- womb, ovarian, cervical, vulval and vaginal. It was set up to save lives by funding ground-breaking research focused on developing effective methods of risk prediction, prevention and earlier detection the gynae cancers.  

The world-leading research that we fund is ambitious and challenging but our vision is simple; a world where gynaecological cancers are diseases of the past.

About FSRH
The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) is the largest UK multi-disciplinary professional membership organisation working at the heart of sexual and reproductive health (SRH), supporting healthcare professionals to deliver high quality care. It works with its 15,000 members, to shape sexual reproductive health for all. It produces evidence-based clinical guidance, standards, training, qualifications and research into SRH. It also delivers conferences and publishes the journal BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health in partnership with the BMJ. For more information please visit: www.fsrh.org