Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 10th 2013 Contents A38
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, June 10, 2013
FROM PAGE A37
the use of dental dams and con-
doms may provide a measure of
However, Abdool said HPV is
not the only threat. Other STIs
that are commonly caught via oral
sex are gonorrhoea, genital her-
pes and syphilis. Infections that
are less frequently passed on
through oral sex include chlamy-
dia, HIV, hepatitis A, B and C,
genital warts and pubic lice.
Abdool said there was a need
for a public awareness campaign
to make people aware of proper
oral sex practices.
Doctors: It's still safer
However, in a telephone inter-
view, Health Minister Dr Fuad
Khan said the connection between
HPV and oral sex had not been
"This link has not been proven
to be internationally accepted as
a concern. There is nothing in the
literature that indicates any cor-
relation between oral sex and dis-
ease processes," Khan said.
He added "Saliva has protective
ingredients and anti-bacterial and
virucidal elements, so to engage
in a discussion based on subjec-
tivity at this point will be futile
STI specialist Dr Colin Furlonge
said oral sex was a safer option
than penetrative sex, and there
was no statistical proof that oral
sex was on the rise, nor was there
undisputed proof that it was the
sole cause of viral infections. In
his clinical practice, he said, he
had not seen a rise in conditions
associated with oral sex over the
past 20 years.
"Oral sex is less risky than
penile or anal sex," he conclud-
ed.He said male and female con-
doms can be used to prevent
Gynaecological oncologist Dr
Anthony Pottinger said it would
be ridiculous to educate people
about the "dangers" of oral sex,
because people get throat and neck
cancer mainly because of cigarette
and alcohol usage and not nec-
essarily because of HPV trans-
mission through oral sex. He said
the comparative risks were 80:20.
Instead, Pottinger recommend-
ed a public education campaign
on the spread of HPV.
"It would be more wise to edu-
cate people about HPV because
everybody is exposed to HPV once
they become sexually active," Pot-
He said three strains of HPV
are responsible for 93 per cent of
"Out of these, HPV 16 is the
worst because it is responsible for
50 per cent of cervical cancer.
HPV 45 and HPV 31 are the least
rated, as they account for ten to
15 per cent of cervical cancers."
He said in T&T, HPV strains
16, 18, and 45 were responsible
for 93 per cent of cervical cancer.
"The main target of the virus
is the cervix," Pottinger said. He
noted that 80 per cent of vaginal
and vulval cancers were caused
by HPV while 100 per cent of anal
cancer is due to HPV.
Pottinger recommended that
the ministry should educate
women about the need to get the
HPV vaccination, and said vac-
cinating young girls who are not
yet sexually active was a good ini-
However, he said sexually active
women should seek to get their
three vaccinations within a six-
month period to eliminate their
chances of getting HPV, and reg-
ular Pap smears were also neces-
sary. Pottinger said vaccinations
are available at medical health
institutions and offer protection
against the virus.
Doctor recommends public
education campaign on spread of HPV
ORAL SEX COMMENTS
On June 3, the UK Guardian published an
interview with the actor Michael Douglas in
which he said that his cancer was "caused
by HPV (human papillomavirus), which
actually comes from cunnilingus".
Allen Burry, a spokesman for the actor,
has since denied that Douglas said that oral
sex was the cause of his own cancer, but
was merely one of the many causes of oral
cancer. "In a discussion with the
newspaper," the Associated Press quotes
Burry as saying, "they talked about the
causes of oral cancer, one of which was oral
sex, which is noted and has been known for
a while now."
The Guardian firmly denied this charge of
misrepresentation. Mr Burry was not
present at the Guardian's interview with
Michael Douglas; the only two people
present were Mr Douglas and the Guardian
writer, Xan Brooks.
Here is a verbatim transcript of that
section of the interview
Xan Brooks: Do you feel, in hindsight, that
you overloaded your system? Overloaded
your system with drugs, smoking, drink?
Michael Douglas: No. No. Ah, without
getting too specific, this particular cancer is
caused by something called HPV, which
actually comes about from cunnilingus.
How to prevent STIs during oral sex
Use a latex barrier from start to finish of
Use a non-lubricated or a flavoured condom
on a penis or sex toy. Condoms with
spermicide can numb the mouth and don't
taste very good.
Don't use food products like whipped cream
or chocolate sauce with the condom or
dental dam because they may be oil-based,
and oil-based lubricants break down latex.
For oral sex on a woman or for oral-anal
stimulation, use a dental dam or plastic food
wrap, or cut a condom lengthwise to make
your own dental dam.
You have increased risk of being exposed to
STIs during oral sex if:
• you have gum disease, cuts or sores
• you've had recent dental work that bruised
any tissue in your mouth
• you have vigorously brushed or flossed.
During the six weeks after any type of oral
or genital piercing, avoid any type of oral
Wait six weeks even if you are in a mutually
monogamous relationship, because until it
is completely healed, the piercing is an open
wound and provides easy access for
bacteria and viruses.
American actor Michael Douglas'
comments in a UK newspaper interview
that his throat cancer was caused by oral
sex gave rise to strong discussions
internationally. AP PHOTO
Doctors urge the use of condoms to prevent the spread of the HPV
virus and other STIs.
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