Planned Parenthood VP on HPV: ‘All of Us Get It’

May 19, 2014 - 12:49 PM

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Vanessa Cullins, vice president for external medical affairs at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, spoke at the Kaiser Family Foundation on May 15, 2014. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

(CNSNews.com) – Dr. Vanessa Cullins, vice president for external medical affairs at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, says in a video that the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted disease that everyone will contract.

“In terms of sexually transmitted diseases, expect to have HPV once you become sexually intimate,” says Cullins, who is an obstetrician and gynecologist. “All of us get it.”

Cullins makes her claim in a video posted by Planned Parenthood Health on YouTube, with the headline, “Let’s Talk About Sex: Sexual health advice from Dr. Vanessa Cullins.”

But Dr. Donna Harrison, executive director and director of research and public policy at the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, called Cullins’ remarks “irresponsible.”

“It makes me angry as an OGBYN,” Harrison told CNSNews.com. “To be cavalier about how you get STDs is irresponsible for any medical practitioner."

Harrison said an HPV diagnosis can “change a woman’s life forever.”

Harrison said she also is sexually active as a married woman but she has not contracted the virus because she is in a monogamous relationship.

“That is the safest way to avoid sexually transmitted diseases,” Harrison said.

In the 2009 Planned Parenthood video with Dr. Cullins, she said she knows about sexuality and sexual health because of her training as a physician and because she is “a sexually active individual.”

“Conversation is going to be necessary whether you’re thinking this is a relationship going to end up in marriage or one that’s going to end up as a one-night stand,” Cullins said.  “In terms of sexually transmitted diseases, expect to have HPV once you become sexually intimate.”

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HPV vaccine. (AP)

“All of us get it,” Cullins says, adding that people should get an HPV vaccination and cancer screenings for cervical cancer, a potentially deadly disease that the virus can cause.

“But my best advice for staying healthy is to admit that you’re a sexually active individual – like most of us – and that you’re going to have sex and that you need to take precautions in order to stay healthy,” Cullins says.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a federal agency, states on its website that 79 million Americans are infected with the virus.

“HPV is so common that most sexually active men and women will get at least one type of HPV at some point in their lives,” the text states.  The CDC does not, however, break that claim down relative to monogamous married couples or even non-married monogamous couples.

The CDC offers two ways to avoid HPV, neither of which is abstinence:

• Use latex condoms the right way every time you have sex. This can lower your chances of getting HPV. But HPV can infect areas that are not covered by a condom -- so condoms may not give full protection against getting HPV;

• Be in a mutually monogamous relationship – or have sex only with someone who only has sex with you.