Protecting yourself from Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the steps you can take in the effort to ELIMINATE certain types of HPV-related cancer in Canada. Watch below to learn how you can help protect yourself from HPV infection and discuss protection with your family and your community.

What it is

HPV is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that is responsible for almost all cases of cervical cancer, but it can also lead to anal cancer, vaginal, and vulvar cancers, penile cancers and mouth and throat cancersi – however it may be prevented. It is estimated that as many as 75% of sexually active men and women will contract HPV at some point in their lives, but most people with healthy immune systems will eventually clear the infection from their bodies.iiMore than 3,500 Canadians – 1/3 of them men – were diagnosed with HPV-related cancers in 2012.iii

That’s why organizations across Canada are starting a movement to help make an impact. This October 5 – 11, during the fourth annual HPV Prevention Week, we are empowering women and men across the country to learn how they can help protect themselves against HPV and HPV-related cancers and diseases. 

By declaring the world’s first HPV Prevention Week in 2017, Canada has become a leader in HPV prevention. This year, Canadians are encouraged to join together to help reduce the risk of HPV infection for themselves and their families in an effort to ELIMINATE certain types of HPV-related cancer in Canada. There are many ways you can get involved and help us build momentum – join the conversation online, participate in a virtual event or even just start a conversation with your friends and family about the role we can all play in HPV Prevention. Talk to your health care provider about how to help protect yourself from HPV.

All lights on HPV

This year, the Federation of Medical Women of Canada (FMWC) and the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) are organizing virtual and socially distanced events to help raise HPV awareness and give a voice to patients. Check out these activities to learn more about HPV!

From Monday October 5th to Friday October 9th, The Federation of Medical Women of Canada will host a series of FREE live online webinars. Hear talks from leading researchers and health care professionals on a variety of HPV-related topics including self-testing, treating HPV in vulnerable populations and the state of HPV research. For details, including a full webinar schedule, or to register, visit https://fmwc.ca/hpv-prevention-week.

On Thursday, October 8th, SOGC will host a Facebook Live Event, Elimination Through Vaccination. The live discussion will feature SOGC CEO Dr. Jennifer Blake, Dr. Nancy Durand, a gynecologist at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Science Centre, and Danielle Michaud, a cervical cancer survivor and SportsNet Anchor. More information on this event can be found on SOGC’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/sogc.org/.

A number of buildings and monuments across Canada will be illuminated to promote HPV Prevention Week and get people talking about HPV prevention (see list below). To find out more about HPV, and to see a complete list of monuments that will be illuminated, visit HPVinfo.ca.

  • CN Tower
  • Calgary Tower
  • 3D Toronto Sign
  • High Level Bridge
  • BC Place
  • Coquitlam City Hall
  • Sails of Light BC
  • Kingston City Hall
  • Niagara Falls

These events are organized by FMWC and SOGC to help raise HPV awareness. 

All Canadians can play a role in HPV prevention. Education is a critical step.

Not sure where to start? Here are a few ways you can take action today to help protect yourself against HPV and HPV-related cancers:

  • If you’re sexually active, use latex condoms every time you have sex; but remember that HPV can infect areas not covered by a condom – so condoms may not fully protect against HPV.iv
  • If you currently smoke, quit smoking – smoking makes the body less able to fight off HPV infection.v 
  • Schedule regular cervical screenings, per your doctor’s recommendation. Pap tests do not prevent HPV, but they can help your doctor catch abnormal cells before they develop into cervical cancer.v
  • Learn about STIs, including their signs, symptoms, consequences, and methods of transmission.
  • Learn about safer sex methods and use them consistently.
  • Make informed decisions about your sexual health. Talk to your partner(s) about their STI status and the use of protection. Remember that the previous sexual behaviours of your partner(s) are also a risk for you, especially if they have had multiple partners.vi
  • Ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist about getting immunized – vaccines are available in Canada to help prevent infections from various types of HPV.vi
  • Anyone who has had sex is at risk for HPV. Because not all infections have noticeable symptoms – or any symptoms at all – men and women can be infected with and transmit HPV without knowing it.vii That’s why you should talk to your doctor about these steps, and others that you can take to help protect yourself. Together you can develop a personal action plan that’s right for you.

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HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in Canada and worldwide. Help raise awareness for this important cause with me. Together, we can help eliminate certain kinds of HPV-related cancer in Canada! #CANADAvsHPV https://www.canadavshpv.ca/ 

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HPV is not a women’s-only virus; men can also be infected with HPV and HPV-related diseases, and play a role in transmitting HPV. Together, we can help eliminate certain kinds of HPV-related cancer in Canada! #CANADAvsHPV https://www.canadavshpv.ca/

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Organizations committed to HPV Prevention

HPV Prevention Week is a collaborative effort of the Federation of Medical Women of Canada (FMWC) and the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC).

FMWC is a national organization committed to the professional, social and personal advancement of women physicians and to the promotion of the well-being of women both in the medical profession and in society at large. For more than 100 years, FMWC has been connecting women in the medical profession with each other, medical students and the community.

Dr. Jennifer Blake

Dr. Vivien Brown MDCM, CCFP, FCFP, NCMP

Dr. Vivien Brown is a family physician, award winning author, Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto Department of Family & Community and Vice President of Medisys Health Group, a business dedicated to preventative health. An award winner for teaching on many levels, her major interests are in the area of health promotion and prevention for women, and continuing medical education.

She has lectured locally, nationally and internationally on preventative medicine and implementation issues around vaccination. Among many of Dr. Brown’s leadership activities include having served as President of the Federation of Medical Women of Canada and currently, serving as Chair and co-founder of HPV Prevention Week in Canada, the first country in the world to have created such a week of education. In 2019, Dr. Brown began  her term as Vice President for North America for the Medical Women’s International Association.

SOGC is one of Canada’s oldest national specialty organizations. Established in 1944, the Society’s mission is to promote excellence in the practice of obstetrics and gynaecology and to advance the health of women through leadership, advocacy, collaboration and education.

SOGC provides ongoing training and educational resources for health care professionals, educators and the general public. These initiatives include hands-on training courses for health care professionals who perform colonoscopies and the development of Sex and HPV: It’s time to talk, an information booklet for teaching sex education in the classroom. 

Dr. Jennifer Blake Chief Executive Officer – SOGC

Dr. Jennifer Blake is Chief Executive Officer of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC). She has held several clinical, academic and leadership roles, including Chief of obstetrics and gynaecology and Head of women’s health at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Chief of pediatric gynaecology at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and Undergraduate Dean of McMaster University’s medical school.

She has also served as professor and associate chair at the University of Toronto, as well as head of pediatric gynaecology for the school. 

i Canadian Cancer Society, 2018. What do I need to know about HPV? Available online: https://www.cancer.ca/en/prevention-and-screening/reduce-cancer-risk/make-informed-decisions/get-vaccinated/what-do-i-need-to-know-about-hpv/?region=on (accessed September 2020).

ii Government of Canada. 2017. Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Available online: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/human-papillomavirus-hpv.html (accessed September 2020)

iii Canadian Cancer Society, 2016. Media backgrounder #1: HPV-associated cancers. Available online: http://www.cancer.ca/en/about-us/for-media/media-releases/national/2016/cancer-statistics-backgrounder-1/?region=on (accessed September 2020)

iv Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017. Genital HPV Infection – Fact Sheet. Available online: https://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpv.htm (accessed September 2020)

v The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada, 2018. HPV. Available online: http://hpvinfo.ca/prevention/ (accessed September 2020)  

vi Government of Canada, 2017. Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Available online: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/human-papillomavirus-hpv.html (accessed September 2020)

vii Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016. HPV and Men – Fact Sheet. Available online: https://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpv-and-men.htm (accessed September 2020)