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Sex educators, health counselors and sex positive advocates all agree that the best way to bust the stigma is talk about it.“It’s really important to be open about it because they’re really common,” says 29-year-old Kaleigh Trace, a sex educator in Halifax (read her experience with HPV below).

The Public Health Agency of Canada estimates that around 75 percent of sexually active men and women will get HPV at some point in their lives, with the highest rates of infection occurring between the ages of 15 and 24.Then I snapped out of that and was like ‘No, he did it too without the condom.’ It’s so important to remember that it took at least two people in order for you to get it.As long as everyone is consenting, everyone made a choice. You take a few pills, take some time off from work if you can, and then you’re better. You can still come out on top as the sexual goddess that you are.” Kaleigh “I contracted HPV a few years ago. It was really the beginning of the HPV awareness period that I would say we’re in right now., she reveals that she has HPV with the same nonchalance as when declaring she’s gluten-free. It’s this mindset that feeds the stigma associated with STIs. Rather, we often keep these experiences to ourselves, where they morph into dark, shameful, isolating secrets—as if getting chlamydia is akin to becoming a sexual pariah.It’s a way to remind us that our bodies get sick in so many places.” Alicia “A few years ago, I ended up contracting genital herpes.

[When I found out,] I was angry, sad and terrified because all of a sudden I had this new status as a less-than person.

Now, when I host workshops, I try to mention offhandedly that I have had HPV so that it opens up the floor up for people to feel more comfortable to talk about their own experiences.

One of the misconceptions about HPV is whether or not you’ll have the virus forever.

If I showed symptoms or if I had herpes, which never leaves your body, it would be different.

Another misconception is that you can’t contract it orally.

If someone has HPV and you perform oral sex on them, it does increase your chance of getting throat cancer.