Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Anonymous (68)


I got the news a week ago –
The high-risk HPV test came back positive.
My ob/gyn didn’t say anything more
Except that I should return in six months.
No consultation; no explanation.
Just that I needed to return in six months.
They were very rude and unsympathetic.

Said diagnosis didn’t include
Any education about its implications.
Knowledge alone is not empowerment.
I had to learn more for myself.
The Internet is rife with falsehoods & misunderstandings;
Misinterpretation and scary stories reign supreme.
Researching HPV online, I was horrified by what I found.

As I learned more I was fraught with worry.
HPV causes all kinds of cancers;
Many don’t have obvious symptoms and go undiagnosed until too late.
HPV is considered a common STI, but I haven’t “sowed my wild oats”
And my only sex partner (in both skin contact and the actual act)
Is the man that I married – he is all that I have known.
But that isn’t true the other way around.

Women are told that they have no way of knowing where they got this.
Some are even told that they don’t need to inform their male partner -
That it won’t affect him and he doesn’t need to know.
He can obliviously keep spreading it around
Without the knowledge that he is doing so
And without ever being blamed for anything.
This leaves him and his future loves / conquests at risk.

Men are rarely acknowledged as carriers
And are not tested to see if they have this.
Double standards demonize women
For any sexual encounters, and shame them.
Once shamed, they don’t talk about it.
It becomes a private matter and their own dark secret,
Their own personal pain, problem and worry.

So the attitude still prevails:
Boys will be boys,
And girls are solely responsible for their own sexual encounters
Whether they get a STI or get pregnant.
Some view HPV as punishment from God for promiscuity.
They imply that cervical & other cancers evidence that punishment.
But why am I being punished for something I didn’t do?

Those who tested positive can feel alone
Even while knowing that 50 – 80% of women are estimated
To have been diagnosed at some point or another.
I have yet to meet another woman who’s gone through this,
Although I haven't talked with many out of my own shame.
I feel dirty, tainted, and undesirable and am fearful for my health and future.
Education is sorely lacking; both women and men deserve better.


The HPV Support Network: