HPV infections in Québec

In women

A Pap test is a sampling of cervical cells taken during a gynecological exam. This test can reveal abnormalities associated with HPV.

Around 53,000 women each year have to see a specialist for follow-up procedures after receiving Pap test results indicating abnormalities.

Moreover, every year in Québec, an average of 300 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and nearly a quarter of them die as a result.

However, Pap tests are not entirely reliable. They detect abnormalities associated with HPV only half the time. Also, not all women regularly get the recommended screenings, such as a Pap test. In fact, an even greater number of women are affected by HPV-associated infections and their consequences.

Additional exams following abnormal Pap test results can be unpleasant and stressful and require several visits. Some procedures, like biopsy or colposcopy, can even be painful. Other procedures, like the removal of part of the uterus, can also have an impact on fertility.

In men

Just like women, men are also at risk of HPV infections. The risk of being infected by the same HPV, however, may be higher in men because they develop fewer antibodies than women after being infected by one or more HPVs.

Unlike men who have sex with women, men who have sex with men:

  • Are more at risk of having genital warts (they have them 2 to 3 times more often than heterosexual men)
  • Are at higher risk of having an HPV-associated cancer, cancer of the anus in particular

Men who have sex with men don’t normally benefit from the indirect protection provided by the vaccination of women. Indeed, vaccinated women are protected against HPVs included in the vaccine and cannot pass them on to their sexual partners, hence protecting them indirectly.