What are the general problems in the population?
HPV infections are the most common sexually transmitted infections, with significant effects on the population. The diseases caused by HPV are numerous and affect both men and women.
Except for the (benign and malignant) diseases caused, there are several psychological effects from these infections, as well as an economic cost for society (around 8 billion dollars annually in the USA).
What are the psychological consequences when a woman finds out she has been infected?
As a rule, women begin to worry when they find out that they have been infected with HPV. The infection is perceived by the woman as a triple risk: a risk for her life, a risk for her fertility, and a risk for her relationship with her partner.
Most women believe that they did something wrong and got sexually infected by a virus that can cause cancer. They get stressed and have strong negative feelings, such as:
- Fear and concern for their life and fertility.
- Disappointment, and sometimes despair, because there is no permanent cure to rid them completely of the virus.
- Remorse, because a sexually transmitted disease carries a stigma for many people.
What questions do couples have after a positive diagnosis of an HPV infection? What should the doctor do?
Diagnosis of an infection in either partner usually gives rise to questions such as:
- Who infected whom?
- Is my partner having an affair?
- Does my partner continue to transmit the virus?
- Is it possible that I had the virus beforehand?
- How can we find out what really happened?
The doctor’s role is to try to prevent and relieve as much as possible the emotional reactions, the psychological and social consequences, and to provide answers to the couple’s questions.