Friday, 15 November 2013

Auntie Seraphic & Scared of Kissing

Dear Auntie,

Hi. Your post today about chastity and deep kissing prompted me to finally research something that's niggled at my brain: can HPV be transmitted through deep kissing?

According to a Sept 2013 fact sheet by the CDC on oral HPV, the jury is still out. Some studies say yes. Some say no. There is no test, nor concrete understanding about how it is transmitted.

Then this Harvard Health blog says yes, yes it can.

That article confirmed my train of thought: if guy performs certain activities on infected woman or deeply kisses woman who'd done things to infected guy, then deeply kisses you...well...virus...fluids exchanged...

*Throws self on fainting couch and sobs.*

There's no test. I've made mistakes...not THE mistake, but made kissing mistakes with at least one guy who's admitted he wasn't a virgin. (He volunteered this information, thinking I'd want to know, in case that was a break-up-able offense. I said it wasn't, but pressuring me or being "THAT guy" would be.) So I didn't ask details. I forget how it came up but I had asked something about mono (I think he was down with a cold), and he said, "Oh, no I'd tell you if I had that."

But again. There is no test. This was 2 years ago and I am asymptomatic, thank God. But still. Ugh.

Never again. And to make matters worse, the CDC says that trials showed that the vaccine offered limited to know protection to women older than 26. I'm 28. I didn't get it when it first came out because I wanted to wait to see how it fared in the general population. Even if I convinced my doctor to give it to me, insurance won't cover it.

So I guess the point of me emailing you is to give you more reason to counsel against making out. And that younger women under 26 should really discern if they should get the vaccination that offers some (but only actually a little) protection. Because take it from me...the older you get, the less likely you'll find a man who's made no..mistakes..and is actually compatible with you. Le sigh.

Scared of Kissing

Dear Scared of Kissing,

Fortunately, it may be that transmitting HPV by saliva is very rare. And fortunately, most HPVs go away on their own in two years without doing any damage. It's terrible that there's as yet no general test for HPVs. Apparently women over 30 can be tested for it, if that's any comfort.

I don't want to scare readers rigid, but we all deserve the facts. It kills me that people say things like, "Well, teenagers are going to [make out, have sex, rape sheep] anyway" when, actually, few people tell teenagers that they can get HPV (and therefore a heightened chance of cancer) through all kinds of "safe" activities, including so-called "safe sex" with a condom. If we lived in a society where pop culture actually reflected REALITY, e.g. that the only risk-free sex is between married, faithful virgins-at-marriage, most teenagers would do nothing. (How many teenagers smoke now?) Unfortunately, pop culture is just one big advert for sex, and even romance novelists with nice young virgin heroines feature heroes who have most definitely been around the block. Yeah, I'm looking at you, Georgette Heyer.

No wonder young nuns live to be a hundred and ten when the rest of us don't. Well, as for me, I just keep going for a cervical smear every two years or so, as the state advises. I really ought to go back to the super-healthy diet of my 20s because otherwise the Big C might get me, and I'd rather it didn't. Fortunately, I almost never smoke.

The biggest problem I can see with all this knowledge we have now got is that it can lead us to reject almost all men as husbands out of fear of eventual cancer. And I suppose it may lead to super-chaste people who do get HPV-linked cancer to blame their poor not-as-chaste spouses. But the thing is, no-one told us when we were teens. Or, at least, no-one convinced us as teens. Or we were convinced as teens, but not as college students because condoms were being shoved at us, and lots of our friends were having sex, and none of them had died from it (yet). If someone had told me at 19 that just making out with my boyfriend was unchaste behaviour, I would have been really mad. Archie comics, hello.

We are all, in our way, victims of the Sexual Revolution, a battle lost by our parents and grandparents, if they were even on the Catholic side. But even before the Sexual Revolution, there was a lot of ignorance about HPV. I think we should embrace (metaphorically speaking) those of our generations who at very least want something better in a spirit of solidarity. And all formerly sexually active fiancés and fiancées should get tested for whichever STDs before marriage.

Sadly, as you say, there is as yet no general test for HPV. Fortunately, as far as I understand it, the risks of contracting HPV from deep kissing are slight, as are the risks of HPV turning into cancer, especially if you don't smoke.

And this is where my brother would want me to say that I am not a medical doctor and anything I say on "Seraphic Singles" is not a valid substitute for consulting a medical doctor.

Grace and peace,

This is one of those depressing moments where you realize that Church teaching is smarter than you, and you should have listened and accepted like a little lamb instead of turning yourself into mental pretzels trying to determine what "no deliberate excitation of the sexual appetite" actually meant. It meant you weren't supposed to be making out with your boyfriends, Young Seraphic, you flibbertigibbet.


Brigid said...

"Yeah, I'm looking at you, Georgette Heyer."

OK, I laughed.

Seraphic said...

Interestingly, I have found pure heroes in thrillers. There's one in Robert Harris's "Enigma." He gets seduced by a free-spirited party girl who breaks his heart, and when other men tell him to get over it, he can't tell them she was his first and only, so it's not that easy.