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.ii More 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 1 – 7, during the third 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. And we need your help to spread the message, not the infection. There are many ways you can get involved and help us build momentum – join the conversation online, participate in an event or even just start a conversation with your friends and family about the role we can all play in HPV Prevention. You should also 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 events to help raise HPV awareness, and give a voice to patients. Check out these activities to learn more about HPV!
The Federation of Medical Women of Canada is hosting screenings of “Lady Ganga: Nilza’s Story” across Canada. This FREE documentary shares the story of Michele Baldwin, or “Lady Ganga.” As she battled cervical cancer, she travelled to India to stand up paddle board the Ganga River, inspiring women globally to get tested for cervical cancer. This inspiring documentary shares not only Michele’s story, but that of a woman she inspired: Nilza. Dates, times and locations of the screening can be found via https://fmwc.ca/hpv-prevention-week/.
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 visit HPVinfo.ca.
- Calgary Tower
- High Level Bridge
- Reconciliation Bridge
- Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium
- Telus Spark
- BC Place
- Fitzsimmons Creek Bridge
- Maple Ridge City Hall
- Sails of Light BC
- Vancouver City Hall
- Forks Market Canopy (Winnipeg, MB)
- St John’s City Hall
- Halifax City Hall
- 3D Toronto Sign
- Oakville Town Hall
- City of London Buildings (includes multiple buildings in London)
- Fred A. Lundy Bridge and Riverwalk Commons
- Kingston City Hall
- Peace Bridge
- Charlottetown City Hall
- Niagara Falls
- Edmonton Tower
- Lethbridge City Hall
These events are organized by FMWC and SOGC to help raise HPV awareness. Merck Canada Inc. is not involved or associated with these events and did not provide funding for these activities.
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
- Limit your number of sexual partners to help reduce the risk of HPV transmission.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
- 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 today 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.
Twitter Join the conversation on Twitter
HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in Canada and worldwide. Help raise awareness for this important cause with me: share the message, not the infection! #CANADAvsHPV
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. I’m helping spread the message, not the infection. #CANADAvsHPV https://www.canadavshpv.ca
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. 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 will begin 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.
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.
We all play a part in HPV Prevention. Many thanks to our partners for their support:
Merck Canada Inc. is proud to support HPV Prevention Week as one of the founding organizations.
i Canadian Cancer Society, 2018. HPV and Cancer. Available online: https://www.cancer.ca/en/prevention-andscreening/reduce-cancerrisk/make-informeddecisions/getvaccinated/hpv-andcancer/?region=on (accessed September 2019).
ii Government of Canada. 2017. Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Available online: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/human-papillomavirus-hpv.html (accessed June 2018)
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 July 2018)
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 June 2018)
v The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada, 2018. HPV. Available online: http://hpvinfo.ca/prevention/ (accessed June 2019)
vi Government of Canada, 2017. Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Available online: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/human-papillomavirus-hpv.html (accessed July 2018)
vii Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017. HPV and Men – CDC Fact Sheet. Available online: https://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/hpvandmen-fact-sheet-february-2012.pdf (accessed July 2018)