I watched Is Oral Sex Safe on BBC3 iPlayer last night (it was a dull night and I was curious). Turned out to be another dumbed down BBC documentary that could have been squeezed into a 10 minute program considering the amount of actual content.
It should really have been called ‘How Unsafe is Oral Sex?’ and the answer have been, not very. As with most things in life, little is 100% safe. Instead it basically explained the link between oral cancer and the HPV virus and how little people knew about that link. It’s main focus seemed to be about how unfair it was that girls are now getting vaccinated against certain strains of HPV (16 and 18) to help prevent cervical cancer but that boys – who are more likely to get oral cancer from the HPV virus – don’t get free vaccinations. What it didn’t really do was give any figures to show how dangerous oral cancer was in relation to anything else (just kept talking about ‘huge’ increases in cases). You can look up that information here however which gives figures on incidence and mortality for all cancers types in the UK for 2007 and 2008, although keep in mind that only about 60% of oral cancer is caused by HPV. It didn’t go into detail on what could help prevent people getting it.
It should have mentioned that whilst rates among men are rising rapidly, vaccination of women (which only started in 2008) should start reducing that rate many years from now as less women get the virus. Or at least that what I’m assuming will logically happen.
It finished with the presenter – who was fairly pointless to be honest – saying that making more people aware of the link between HPV and oral cancer would allow young people to make their own decision about what to do about it. Well as far as I can see the only two options she presented were abstinence or shelling out £400 for the vaccination….