ONLY half of women diagnosed with HPV are aware of what the virus is, according to new research by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.

The charity say that the results of the research show that there is still a lack of awareness of the issue, with many women believing that being diagnosed with the Human Papillomavirus means that they have cancer. 

Dr Anita Mitra, clinical research fellow, said: “I often meet patients who are very scared to receive their cervical screening results telling them they have HPV. 

“I always describe it as ‘like the common cold that you get on your cervix; most of us are going to get it at some point, and most infections clear quickly on their own without causing long-term health problems.’ 

“However, if the HPV isn’t cleared it can cause cervical changes including cervical cancer. And that is why we check for HPV as part of the cervical screening test. It’s also important to be clear that it isn’t a sign of promiscuity, infidelity or poor hygiene. 

“If you’re worried, please talk to a healthcare professional so that we can address your concerns and answer any questions that you have.”

The charity also fear that there is a still a stigma surrounding the virus, with 4 in 10 reporting feeling ashamed of diagnosis. 

Sam Dixon, Chief Executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust: “Increasing cervical screening attendance remains vital but we must not overlook the support that is often required after the test. 

“HPV is so common and yet those affected tell us they often feel isolated. We regularly hear about anxiety, worry and even relationship break downs because of those three letters. 

"Increasing HPV understanding must go hand in hand with cervical screening awareness so that everyone understands their results, and this very normal thing becomes normalised.”