HPV stigma must end says local MP

Steve McCabe MP continues to support Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust to tackle the myths and stigma around the common virus HPV and get the facts out.

Steve is joining #SmearForSmear campaign during Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (20-26 January) to tackle the misconceptions about the virus. Across the UK, cervical screening is moving to testing for HPV  first, it is a far more sensitive test but also means many more women will be told they have HPV. In the majority of cases, HPV infection goes away without doing the body any harm but in some cases it could develop into cervical cancer if not treated. Testing for HPV is a far more accurate test estimated to prevent almost 500 diagnoses of cervical cancer every year.

New research conducted by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust has found a third of women consider HPV a taboo topic and would not want anyone to know if they had it. A quarter haven’t heard of HPV and one in five would feel embarrassed if they were told they had the virus. Calls to the charity’s Helpline about HPV have already risen 50% over the past year. It is expecting this to significantly rise as more women are tested for HPV and is calling on health professionals to be prepared for increases in questions from patients and encouraging open conversation.

Steve McCabe MP said: “Smear tests are the best defence against cervical cancer. Most forms of HPV are harmless but a few are high-risk and a smear test will catch them before they develop into cervical cancer. I think it is about time that we get rid of the stigma around HPV, so we can save more lives.”

Robert Music, Chief Executive, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust: “HPV can be confusing but it is nothing to be ashamed of. 80% of us will get at least one type of HPV in our lives and in most cases the immune system will get rid of the infection without it causing any harm. We need to get the facts out about HPV and get rid of harmful myths and stigma around this really common virus.”

For more information visit www.jostrust.org.uk/smearforsmear

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Steve McCabe

Steve McCabe is the Labour MP for Birmingham, Selly Oak, and has been an MP continuously since 1 May 1997.

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