TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Nearly 70 percent of young Taiwanese engage in unprotected sex, the Formosa Cancer Foundation announced (FCF) on Monday (June 22).
The FCF released the results of a poll titled the "2020 HPV Awareness and Attitude Survey," which surveyed 2,000 people (1,000 men and 1,000 women) between the ages of 19 and 35 on their sexual behaviors. The results revealed that 67 percent of respondents do not use condoms when having sex, raising concerns over an increase in genital human papillomavirus (HPV) infections and cancer.
Foundation Vice President Tsai Li-chuan (蔡麗娟) said that according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, HPV is the eighth most common cause of cancer in Taiwan and that the lifetime probability of contracting HPV for men and women is 80 percent. Tsai said the survey found that only 66 percent of respondents had heard of HPV, with the percentage higher among women than men.
Tsai said that after further analysis, it was also found that although more than 80 percent of women understand the concept of HPV prevention, 84 percent of them have not been vaccinated against HPV. She said the three main reasons why woman have not been vaccinated are: They do not know which department to consult (43 percent), they are afraid of or do not like to enter clinics (22 percent), and they are embarrassed to discuss it with friends or speak of it openly, leading to a lack of understanding (18 percent).
Tsai said that this shows that the public has insufficient knowledge about HPV, its potential effects on their health, and the urgency of prevention.
Taiwan Immunization Vision and Strategy Director-General Lee Ping-ing (李秉穎) explained that there are more than 100 types of HPV, with types 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58 considered to be highest risk for cervical, vulvar, anal, vaginal, and penile cancers. Lee said that types 16 and 18 cause 70 percent of cervical cancers, while some lower-risk varieties can cause genital warts.
In addition, Lee pointed out there is evidence that HPV also leads to head and neck cancers. He said the U.S. has recently approved the 9-valent vaccine to prevent this.
Lee said that 95 percent of HPV infections are the result of sexual intercourse. However, he said people can also be infected through other forms of skin-to-skin contact via skin wounds, mucous membranes, or body fluids.
As for vaccines, Lee said that 2-valent and 4-valent HPV shots can prevent at least 70 percent of cervical cancers, while the 9-valent vaccine can protect against 90 percent. Lee said that the 4-valent vaccine can be given to both men and women, protecting against HPV subtypes 6, 11, 16, and 18, while 9-valent protects against subtypes 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58.
Another of the study's findings was that 30 percent of respondents said that they were willing to engage in sex with a partner without having an emotional connection.