What is HPV? (Human Papillomavirus)

Do you already have HPV?

    • The human body contains the common virus, human papillomavirus (HPV), in many parts. In fact there are more than 100 strains of Human Papillomavirus Infection. These even include HPV that caused warts on face, feet, hands and toes.
    • Around 30 types of HPV can harm your private parts, like the vulva, vagina, cervix, penis, scrotum, rectum, and anus. Almost everyone has HPV at some point.
    • Human Papillomavirus Infection Symptoms
    • It most commonly presents in Genital Warts. It is a common sexually transmitted infection.
    • The sexually transmitted infection (STI) HPV, which affects your genitals, spreads through skin-to-skin contact. STIs can be uncomfortable, but most genital wart strains are harmless, even the ones that cause warts.
    • Some types of HPV can cause cancer, like cervical cancer. But if doctors find it early and treat it, they can usually prevent the cancer.

    Do all warts have HPV?

    • The answer is yes, with a caveat. There is a difference between wart causing HPV and the HPV that can progress to cervical cancer.
    • Certain strains can lead to warts, such as genital warts, are undesirable and unattractive. However, they are generally harmless.. HPV types 6 and 11 most often cause genital warts.
    • Different strains of HPV lead to:
    • Flat warts
    • Plantar warts
    • Regular warts
    • Periungual and subungual warts
    • HPV causes all warts, but not every HPV strain produces warts. The HPV variant that may develop into cancer doesn’t produce warts.

    How is cervical cancer and HPV related?

    • Certain types of HPV can lead to changes in the cells of your cervix. The cervix is the passage between your vagina and uterus. If left untreated, this condition, known as cervical dysplasia, can potentially progress into cervical cancer. If not treated, this condition called cervical dysplasia can sometimes develop into cervical cancer.
    • If you’re under 30, most HPV infections go away on their own. When you turn 30, a Pap test can show how often you need HPV testing. If your test is positive, you may need more frequent testing because you’re at higher risk.
    • It’s crucial to have regular Pap tests to screen for cervical cancer. Having HPV or cervical dysplasia doesn’t always lead to cancer, but it’s important to know and remember this.
  • HPV can be contracted by anyone. No matter gender, Age, or Sexual Orientation.
  • Who can contract HPV?

    • Anyone who engages in sexual or genital contact with an infected person can contract HPV. You can transmit it through vaginal, oral, or anal sex, and even through genital-to-genital contact.
    • It is more prevalent in high risk type of unprotected sex. Your exposure to HPV and your risk of contracting a type of HPV increase.

    Prevalence of HPV

    • HPV is the most prevalent sexually transmitted infection in the United States. Studies show over 14 million individuals contracting the virus annually.
    • If you’re sexually active and not vaccinated, the CDC states that you will likely contract a common disease. This infection is likely to happen at some point in your life. Most never know they have the virus.

    What are HPV symptoms?

    • When it affects your private parts, it often doesn’t show any signs. But if it does, the most common sign is warts in that area.
    • Rough HPV warts appear in the genital area. Symptoms can appear weeks, months, or years after contracting HPV. Genital warts can spread to others, but they don’t cause any harm.
    • High-risk variants of HPV frequently do not exhibit symptoms until they have developed into cancer.
    • Cervical Cancer Symptoms
    • Cervical cancer symptoms can vary from person to person, and some individuals may not experience any symptoms at all. However, common symptoms of cervical cancer may include:
    • 1. Abnormal vaginal bleeding:
    • 2. Unusual vaginal discharge
    • 3. Pelvic pain
    • 4. Pain during sexual intercourse
    • Cervical cancer can affect going to the bathroom, but other things can too. Regular check-ups, like Pap smears, can find cervical cancer early and make treatment easier.
    • HPV mostly causes cervical cancer, which is the most common. Other types of cancer related to it are less common, such as Penile, Vaginal, Vulvar, and Anal cancer. Not everyone with HPV will develop cancer.

    It is spread thru skin to skin contact during oral, vaginal or anal sex. This included intimate touching.

    How is iy transmitted?

      • You can catch it from touching someone’s skin during sex. If your private parts come into contact with the private parts of an infected person, you can also become infected. You can also spread the virus by touching genitals with hands and penetration.

      How readily is HPV spread?

      • The contagion spreads very easily because people can pass it on through touching skin. You or your partner can catch the virus without sharing any body fluids. Your partner can give you the infection, or you can give it to them, even without ejaculating. It can be transmitted through vaginal, anal, or oral sex.

      Diagnosis and Examination

      How is it detected?

      • Doctors can usually see genital warts just by looking. High-risk HPV types don’t cause symptoms, so you’ll likely find an infection during a routine Pap smear or screening.
      • Pap smear checks for cervical cancer and cells that can become cancer if not treated. HPV cancer is usually caused by high-risk HPV.
      • HPV Test: Identifies dangerous virus types that may cause cervical cancer if not treated.
      • No FDA-approved tests for identifying it on the vulva, vagina, penis, scrotum, rectum, or anus in the US. Cancers linked to it in these body regions are far less prevalent than cervical cancer.
      • Additional methods that can identify unusual cells potentially resulting from an infection encompass
      • Colposcopy is done if your Pap smear shows abnormal cells or if you have tested positive. In this process, a lit tool known as a colposcope enlarges your cervix, making abnormal cells visible. Your healthcare professional might extract these cells and send them to a laboratory for precancer or cancer indications (biopsy).
      • VIA is used when Pap smears or HPV tests are not available in certain areas. It involves visually inspecting with acetic acid. Through VIA, your healthcare professional applies a solution based on vinegar to your cervix. This solution causes abnormal cells to become white, making them more noticeable.

      HPV Treatment

      • Therapies cannot eliminate the virus from your body. However, they can eradicate any noticeable warts on your genital area and irregular cells in your cervix. Genital warts treatment may encompass:
      • Cryosurgery: Utilizing liquid nitrogen to freeze or obliterate abnormal cells and warts.
      • Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP): Employing a unique wire loop to excise warts or abnormal cells from the cervix.
      • Electrocautery: Eliminating warts using an electric current.
      • Laser therapy: Leveraging intense light to annihilate warts or any abnormal cells.
      • Conization or Cold knife cone biopsy: The process of removing a cone-shaped piece of cervical tissue that has abnormal cells.
      • Medicated cream prescription: The use of a therapeutic cream applied directly to the warts to eliminate them.
      • Application of Trichloroacetic acid (TCA): The process of using a chemical compound that effectively destroys warts.
      • Only a minor percentage of individuals infected with high-risk HPV will develop abnormal cervical cells necessitating treatment.

      Is it preventable?

      • The only absolute method to prevent it is to refrain from sexual activity. Many people want to lower their chances of getting it and cervical cancer while still having a healthy sex life.
      • Your risk can be minimized if you:
      • Receive the HPV vaccination.
      • To prevent it and health problems, vaccinate yourself before having sex.
      • The FDA has approved three vaccines for prevention, but since 2017, only Gardasil 9 is available in the U.S. This vaccine combats strains that cause cervical cancer and genital warts. Individuals between the ages of 9 and 45 are approved for it.
      • Vaccination could potentially shield you from strains you have not yet encountered. Ask your healthcare provider for their recommendation on getting vaccinated.
      • Undergo regular screenings and tests. Early detection and treatment non-normal cells can significantly hamper the growth of cervical cancer.
      • Doctors recommend beginning regular Pap smears at the age of 21.
      • From the age of 30 to 65, you might only need routine Pap smears, routine tests, or a mix of both. If you’re over 65, the need for continued screening may vary.
      • Engage in safe sexual practices.
      • Condoms and dental dams help protect against STIs by reducing contact with semen and vaginal secretions. Regular use of these barriers during sexual encounters can reduce your risk of acquiring an infection.
      • Safeguard your sexual partner(s).
      •  Inform your partner if you have the condition so they can also undergo testing. You might need to refrain from sexual intercourse while undergoing treatment for genital warts or high-risk variants. Consult with your medical expert about the precautions you should take to prevent an infection.

      Is there a cure?

      • No. There is no known cure. Still, your immune system effectively eliminates the virus for you. The body eliminates approximately 90% of infections within one to two years.
      • Is HPV contagious your entire life?
      • When your immune system kills the virus, you cannot spread it. However, you can still pass on the HPV virus even if you no longer have genital warts. This can happen as long as the virus is still present in your body.
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      • Disclaimer:
      • This information is only for learning. It’s not a substitute for advice from doctors. If you have questions about your health, ask a doctor. Don’t ignore medical advice because of what you read here.