HPV Stigma Doesn’t Help the HPV Situation

Influencer Jamie Otis revealed she tested positive for human papillomavirus, making her one in, uhhhh…almost everyone.

by Harron Walker
09 December 2019, 3:41am

Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images

This article originally appeared on VICE US

Jamie Otis—the 33-year-old Married at First Sight star who, along with her husband, Doug, parlayed reality TV fame into a domestic lifestyle brand that includes a podcast, a book, a YouTube channel, and a shared Instagram account—told her 474,000 Instagram followers on Thursday night that she tested positive for human papillomavirus.

“I went to the doc and heard my pap was bad & I have HPV,” Otis captioned a cute family pic. “Although it sounds like an STD and I should freak the F out, I know this is somewhat common and not to be overly worried about.”

HPV sounds “like an STD” because, well, it is, although we call them STIs now. In fact, HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. It’s so common that nearly everyone will get at least one type of the virus in their lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and about 80 million Americans are currently infected. It’s as common as men not knowing how to sext or Sky Ferreira lying about her album coming out

Otis is right, though, about HPV being nothing to “freak the F out” over; the CDC says that nine out of 10 infections clear up on their own within two years. Even though coverage of Otis’ HPV journey has referred to the infection as “common,” these facts are important context—HPV stigma is still totally a real thing.

Some strains do carry a cancer risk, however, causing nearly 35,000 new cases of cancer every year, so it’s still important to seek treatment from a medical professional, even if HPV isn’t a big deal, generally speaking. Unfortunately, Otis indicates in the Instagram post she will have to wait until after her pregnancy is over to investigate whether her HPV is more serious—which, still, would be nothing to be ashamed of, of course. The important thing is to get checked out, treated if necessary, and monitored by a licensed professional.

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