STD Wake-Up Call

Dr. Bradley Stoner is the chief of STD services at the St. Louis County health department.

Dr. Stoner says a lot of information about STDs is spread around in popular culture, literally.

Dr. Stoner is one of several doctors trying to let people know about what puts them at risk and what they can do to reduce the risk of transmission. He says because people misunderstand diseases such as the human papilloma virus, or HPV, about 20 million people are infected with the virus.

In some cases, HPV is a-symptomatic. That means people can carry the virus and not even know it.

In medical terms, HPV is a viral sexually transmitted disease that causes genital warts. It is also the most important cause of cervical cancer.

Who exactly is at risk?

More than 80 known types of HPV can infect anyone who has ever had a sexual encounter. Twenty types are known to infect the genital tract.

Females also have a heightened risk especially where cervical cancer is involved. Women are recommended to get regular check-ups with gynecologists not only for HPV, but to ensure a clean bill of health.

On the male side, the only way HPV is detected is through the identification of a wart.

Dr. Stoner says the best way to prevent HPV is to ask sexual partners about their prior history. He says doing this not only protects yourself from contracting HPV, but other STDs in the long run.