Take this more as a gauge of what's possible to figure out when trying to dig past the first layer of fear-mongering women are told than me having figured this out altogether. And anyone feel free to post their counter-understanding.
Yes, HPV is super-common and getting it is believed to be necessary to later develop almost all cervical cancers. It's so common that you can still get it from contact with your environment without being promiscuous, but young, promiscuous people are more likely to be coming into contact with it for the first time than other populations so this is why they are targeted for extra pap testing, especially in populations doctors believe to be extra promiscuous.
Some HPV types alter cells and those altered cells are what later can develop into cervical cancer. The frequent pap testing for promiscuous individuals or ones with a promiscuous partner is, in part, an attempt to catch an active infection so which cells are altered can be detected and removed.
Most infections come and go without anyone ever knowing. Pap tests can still sometimes detect the presence of remaining altered cells, but it's unreliable so women are frequently tested long after they've entered a monogamous relationship. The chances of catching altered cells isn't even that good so the need for such frequent pap testing and the fear it causes in women who get an abnormal result is questionable.
Removal of altered cells is still attempted, but if they really tried to remove any chance of altered cells, they'd be removing every cervix of every woman who shows their immune system has come into contact with HPV. There comes a point when fighting this battle to reduce the percentage of women who develop cervical cancer is overkill.
My impression is that women are intentionally kept in the dark about true risk. Doctors keep women's access to birth control hostage in order to force more pap tests. The confusing information that's out there may be intentionally confusing to create a false suspicion that there is a relationship between the need for pap tests and access to birth control in order for doctors to resist society's need to make birth control available without a prescription.
Many doctors also don't believe women should make their own determination about how frequently they should have pap tests and clearer information would lead to that. Also, doctors don't believe women will be honest about their true risk, that the promiscuous ones would forgo frequent tests to hide their promiscuity and the ones who don't know their partner is promiscuous would be using the wrong information to assess their own risk. This is similar thinking to that behind putting antibiotics in the eyes of all newborns instead of just the ones most likely to have a mother with active gonorrhea. It's taking the factor of who's going to lie about the factors behind their risk out of the equation and just treating everyone as at risk.
I'm very confused about the relationship between promiscuity and risk because of how the majority of women are exposed anyhow and the low chances of catching an active infection, which would have to be a first infection, but as I said above, I think the medical community wants me to be confused. I think the medical community is now swinging the other way by "allowing" us to forgo the belief in the relationship between promiscuity and risk now that their push is to get every girl vaccinated, but I don't think they are quite ready to "let" us know enough to assess our daughters' risks.
Basically, it's all very confusing and for the love of Pete, don't pass up on a relationship just because you know someone's been exposed. Knowing for the next person you meet or even yourself is unreliable and what we're talking about here is collective statistics about cervical cancer, an individual's risk is still very low even with a known exposure.
Want DP delivered to your inbox daily? Subscribe here: