HPV: Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention
Human Papillomavirus or most popularly known as HPV, is a type of Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) that is very common. According to research, almost 80% of those who are sexually active have HPV.
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HPV can infect both genders, however, the infection is more dangerous in women. Almost all cervical cancer cases occur to women who are diagnosed with HPV. Left untreated, HPV can turn the cell inside to be cancerous in 10 – 30 years after the initial infection.
However, not all HPV can lead to cervical cancer. There are 100 types of HPV and they are divided into low-risk and high-risk. High-risk HPV comprises of HPV type 16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 53, 56, 58, 59, 66, 68, 73, 82. HPV Type 16 and type 18 are the most common type related to cervical cancer.
Human Papillomavirus infection usually causes warts. Here are the types of warts that might be caused by the virus:
- Genital warts –warts that form around the anus, vulva, penis, or scrotum. They appear as one or clustered bump and resembles cauliflower. Genital warts are normally caused by HPV types 6 and 11.
- Plantar warts – occur on the feet or heels
It is important to note that not all warts are caused by HPV. Warts that are caused by HPV usually itch and tender although they are not associated with being painful.
Unfortunately, most HPV infections do not show any symptoms aside from warts. High-risk HPV shows no symptoms hence it is very important to get routine pap smear if you are sexually active.
Human Papillomavirus Diagnosis
Human Papillomavirus infection is normally diagnosed through tests. The most popular test to diagnose the infection is pap test (pap smear).
To get pap smear, an ob-gyn will insert a speculum into the vagina to get the sample of the cell by swabbing. The swab will then be sent to laboratory. The test can determine if HPV is present in the cell. There are several types of pap smear and you can ask if the test will let you know the type of HPV if found present.
In men, the doctor will take a look at the genital area and see if there are warts present. Additionally, doctors might also apply a type of vinegar solution to the skin to see warts that are raised after application.
HPV is a contagious infection that is easily spread during sexual intercourse. Prevention for the contagion is to always practice safe sex.
Additionally, there are also vaccines for Human Papillomavirus that you can get. HPV vaccinations are normally administered twice with a window time of 6 to 12 months. These vaccinations are most effective when to have prior to 25 years old.
If you are above the age, there is a vaccine that is eligible known as Gardasil-9.
As there are 100 types of HPV, one vaccine cannot accommodate to all types of the virus. There are 3 most commonly known HPV vaccinations:
- HPV Bivalent vaccine protects against the most common high-risk HPV type 16 and
- HPV Quadrivalent vaccine (Gardasil) protects against the most common types of the virus; 6, 11, 16, 18
- Gardasil 9 prevents HPV types 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, 58
If the infections do not show any symptoms (warts), there are no treatments available. However, if routine pap smear tests show changes in the cervical cells, doctors will then recommend options of treatments.
If symptoms such as warts appear, there are treatments available. Usually, treatments involve cream that can be applied directly to the affected skin. The creams will burn warts and the skin around them, to promote new skin growth.
To understand more about Human Papillomavirus, you can consult a gynecologist (ob-gyn). Okadoc offers the chance to do so by enabling online consultation with any doctor of your choice.
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