Globally, the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) now becomes the most common STD. The HPV has over 150 types of virus that can cause different infections. Most people infected with the virus do not experience any symptoms or health problems. Most HPV are not harmful at all and goes away on their own, while some can lead to genital warts or certain types of cancer.
Check out all you need to know about the Human Papilloma Virus, how it spreads, the symptoms it causes, and their treatments.
Facts about the Human Papilloma Virus
1. Condoms are not safe
The use of condoms can lower the risk of been infected with the Human Papilloma Virus, but not completely safe when it comes to genital warts. Well, to some level they may protect you from this virus, but still possible to get infected. The reason is because the virus can be contacted through other parts that are not covered by the condom. Due to the fact that some part of the genital organs are covered with condom, you can get infected if the infected part comes into contact with your partner’s genitals.
2. HPV causes genital warts and cancer
HPV causes cervical cancer, penile cancer as well as anal cancer. The 6 and 11 type of HPV are responsible for genital warts and considered low-risk HPV because they do not lead to cancer or other serious health problems. According to WHO, at least 14 of the many types of HPV viruses are considered to be high-risk type in terms of causing cancer. This, however, is not to say that if you have HPV you must get cancer.
3. HPV is different from genital herpes
The HPV and genital herpes are both Sexually Transmitted Infections and are difficult to treat since some people show no symptoms but they can still spread it to others. However, Genital herpes is spread by the type 2 Herpes Simplex Virus. Herpes is not curable, just like HPV, but you can get medication to control the symptoms and reduce its frequency.
4. You can get vaccinated
There are vaccines that can help to prevent HPV. 16 and 18 type of HPV are known to have the strongest connection to cancer. They can cause 70% of cervical cancer. So, getting vaccinated would help against cancer-causing HPV as well as genital warts causing type. However, the vaccines, cannot protect you from all other types of HPV.
5. HPV can resolve on its own
After some months most HPV cases clear on their own without causing you any harm, according to World Health Organization. From research about 90% of the cases will go away after two years while a small percentage will persist and progress to cervical cancer.
6. HPV not a death sentence
While most people are scared of the HPV, it’s treatable and you can lead a normal life after being infected with it. However, once you have the virus, it is impossible to cure it. This means that the infection may recur.
What is Human Papilloma Virus?
Human Papilloma virus also known as HPV, is the most common viral infection of the reproductive tract. The HPV is quite different from herpes. Most sexually active individuals can be infected at some point in their lives and some may be repeatedly infected. The HPV has over 150 types of virus that can cause different infections. These viruses can affect different parts of the body such as the mouth, tongue, penis, anus, testicles, groin, cervix, and the thighs. Although, the HPV is mostly spread through vaginal, oral and anal sex, it could also be contacted when your skin comes into contact with someone who already has the virus.
How does HPV spreads?
HPV is easily spread through sexual intercourse with someone who is infected. It is mostly spread during vaginal, anal or oral sex. The virus can be spread even when an infected individual has no symptoms or signs. Having multiple sex partner, increases in rate at which the virus spreads. HPV can still spread even when there is no penetration during sexual intercourse. Most times, symptoms can develop years after having intercourse with someone who has the virus.
Symptoms of HPV
Some HPV symptoms may appear years after the initial infection. Some types of HPV causes warts to form, while others can increase the risk of cancer. The virus can cause genital warts.
A person may have skin bump, a cluster of bumps, or stem-like protrusions. These warts can range in size and appearance either large or small, flat or cauliflower-shaped. They may be white, pink, red, purplish-brown, or skin-colored. They can form on the vulva, cervix, penis or scrotum, anus, groin area. These warts can cause discomfort such as itching, burning or more.
Can HPV lead to cancer?
Most people infected with HPV do not develop cancer, but if ones immune system is weak, the infection can increase the risk. A high-risk strain of HPV can change the way that cells react with each other, and this can cause them to grow abnormally.
The immune system provides immunity and fight unwanted cells in your body. However, if the immune system is unable to do so, the cells can stay and continue to grow in the body, which in time, lead to cancer. According to National Cancer Institute (NCI), It may take 10 to 20 years for a tumor to develop.
In the United States, around 3% and 2% of all cancers in females and males respectively, stem from HPV.
The infection can increase the risk of developing cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, anus and oropharynx, includng the base of the tongue and the tonsils.
How to avoid been infected
Few things you can do to help prevent HPV:
- Get the HPV vaccine to prevent HPV cancers, genital warts and and encourage your partner to do the same.
- Consider abstinence if you’re not ready or Don’t want to have sex.
- Don’t start having sex too young.
- Limit your number of sexual partners, at any age.
- For every sexual encounter, use condoms.
- Circumcision may lower your risk, for men.
- Strengthen your immune system by adopting a healthy lifestyle.
Treatment for HPV
Recently, there is no treatment for HPV, they go away on their own. The doctor in charge will likely want you to come for repeat testing in a year to see if the HPV infection persists and if any cell changes have developed that need further follow-up.
Though, genital warts can be treated with prescription medications, burning with an electrical current, or freezing with liquid nitrogen. But, getting rid of the warts does not treat the virus itself, and the warts may return.
Precancerous cells can be removed through a short procedure that’s performed at your doctor’s office. Methods such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or surgery may be use to treat cancers that develop from HPV. Though, multiple methods may be used sometimes.
However, there isn’t any medically-supported natural treatments available for HPV infection.
Routine screening for HPV and cervical cancer is important for identifying, monitoring, and treating health problems that may result from HPV infection.