Human papillomavirus (HPV) Is a viral infection that is transmitted from person to person through skin-to-skin contact. There are more than 100 species of it, more than 40 of which are transmitted through sexual contact, their target - the genitals, mouth and throat.
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HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) (CDC).
Some cases of genital HPV infection may not cause health problems, however, some types of HPV can cause genital warts and even cancer of the cervix, anus and cervix, but there are vaccines that can prevent these health problems.
Most sexually active women and men become infected with HPV at some point in their lives, and some may become infected again. More than 90% of the infected population eventually defeats the infection.
How is HPV infection spread?
You can be infected with HPV - vaginal, anal or oral Through sexual contact With an infected person. It is most commonly applied during vaginal or anal sex and Skin to skin contact Even in the case.
A person with HPV can transmit the infection to another even when he or she has no signs or symptoms of infection.
If you are sexually active, you may be infected with HPV, even if you have only had sex with one person.
HPVIt is caused by warts Is contagious. They can be spread by direct contact with warts. Warts can also spread when someone touches something that has already been touched by a wart.
HPV Symptoms of infection
In most cases, your immune system fights HPV infection before it produces warts. When warts appear, they differ in appearance depending on the type of HPV involved in their formation:
Genital warts. They appear in the form of flat lesions, small bumps resembling cauliflower, or small stem-like growths. In women, genital warts mostly occur on the vulva, although they can also develop near the anus, cervix, or vagina.
In men, genital warts appear on the penis and scrotum or around the anus. Genital warts rarely cause discomfort or pain, although itching or pain may still be noted.
Ordinary warts. Ordinary warts appear as rough, raised bumps mainly on the hands and fingers. In most cases, ordinary warts are just annoying, but they can also be painful or prone to injury or bleeding.
Plantar warts. Plantar warts are granular growths that usually appear on the heels. These warts can cause discomfort.
Flat warts. Flat warts are flat lesions with a slightly raised surface. They can appear everywhere, but in children it is mainly found on the face, in men - on the beard, and in women - on the legs.
Low-risk HPV is manifested as warts, while high-risk HPV types are not symptomatic. If a high-risk HPV infection persists for many years and causes cellular changes, you may have symptoms in this case. You may also have symptoms if these cellular changes lead to the development of cancer.
High-risk HPV can cause:
- ᲡCervical cancer
- Anal cancer
- Some types of cancer of the mouth and throat
- Cancer of the vulva
- Vaginal cancer and
- Penile cancer
- Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women in the world.
- Two types of human papillomavirus (HPV) (16 and 18) are responsible for almost 50% of cervical cancers.
- Women living with HIV have a 6 times higher risk of developing cervical cancer than women without HIV.
- Anti-HPV Vaccination And precancerous lesions Screening And treatment is an effective way to prevent cervical cancer.
- Cervical cancer is curable if it is diagnosed at an early stage and its treatment is started in time.
- Comprehensive cervical cancer control includes primary prevention (HPV vaccination), secondary prevention (screening and treatment of precancerous lesions), tertiary prevention (diagnostics and treatment of cervical cancer), and palliative care.
Cervical cancer is the most common disease associated with HPV.
Although most HPV infections and precancerous lesions disappear spontaneously, there is a risk for all women that HPV infection can become chronic and precancerous lesions can turn into invasive cervical cancer.
It takes 15 to 20 years for women with normal immune systems to develop cervical cancer. In women with weakened immune systems (untreated HIV-infected women) this may take only 5 to 10 years.
HPV in men
Many men who have HPV infection have no symptoms, although some may develop genital warts.
See your doctor if you notice any unusual rashes or lesions on your penis, scrotum or anus.
Some strains of HPV can cause cancer of the penis, anal and throat in men. Some men may have a higher risk of developing HPV-related cancer, including men with weakened immune systems.
HPV and pregnancy
Infection with HPV does not reduce the chances of getting pregnant. If you are pregnant and have HPV, you may need to postpone treatment until after giving birth. However, in some cases, HPV infection can lead to complications.
Hormonal changes caused during pregnancy can lead to the growth of genital warts and in some cases bleeding from these warts. If genital warts are widespread, they can complicate vaginal delivery.
When genital warts block the birth canal, a caesarean section may be needed.
In rare cases, a woman with HPV can pass it on to a child, which can lead to: Recurrent respiratory papillomatosis, During which children develop HPV-related growths in the airways.
Changes in the cervix can occur as early as pregnancy, so during pregnancy you should schedule routine screening tests for cervical cancer and HPV.
- Multiple sexual partners. The more sexual partners you have, the higher your chances of becoming infected with genital HPV infection. Having sex with a partner who has had multiple partners also increases your risk.
- Unprotected sexual contact
- Sexual contact with an infected person
- Age. Common warts are most common in children, while genital warts are found in adults and adolescents.
- Weakened immune system. People with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for HPV infection.
- Damaged skin. Areas of skin that are damaged are more prone to developing normal warts.
- Direct contact. Exposure to warts or failure to use protective equipment when in contact with HPV-contaminated surfaces (public shower or swimming pool) may increase the risk of HPV infection.
- Other sexually transmitted infections (Gonorrhea, chlamydia, herpes simplex virus)
Injuries to the oral cavity and upper respiratory tract. Some HPV infections cause damage to your tongue, tonsils, soft palate, or larynx and nose.
Cancer. Some strains of HPV can cause cervical cancer. These strains may contribute to the development of cancer of the genitals, anus, mouth and upper respiratory tract.
- Babes-Papanicolaou test (Pap test) - A method of testing for cervical cancer in women. Pap test involves collecting cells from the cervix and morphological-microscopic examination of the smear to detect abnormal (atypical) pre-tumor cells.
- HPV DNA testing - Used to identify high-risk HPV strains (14 strains).
It is recommended that women have their first Pap test At the age of 21, Regardless of the onset of sexual activity.
A regular Pap test helps us identify abnormal cells in women. This may indicate cervical cancer or other problems related to HPV.
Women aged 21 to 29 years They should have a Pap test every three years.
Women between the ages of 30 and 65:
- They should have a Pap test every three years;
- Should be tested for HPV every five years (it will check for high-risk types of HPV (hrHPV));
- Should take both tests together once every five years; This is known as joint testing.
If Under 30 years of age Yes, your doctor may also order an HPV test if your Pap test results are abnormal.
There are at least 14 strains of HPV that can cause cancer. If you have one of these strains, your doctor may want to monitor your changes in the cervix.
Your doctor may also request a follow-up procedure such as a colposcopy.
Most cases of HPV can be cured on their own, so there is no cure for the infection itself. Routine testing is needed to monitor HPV infection.
Genital warts can be treated with medication, electric shock or freezing with liquid nitrogen. But escaping from physical warts does not cure the virus and the warts can still develop.
In case of cancer caused by HPV, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or surgery is applied. Sometimes several methods can be used together.
There is currently no treatment for HPV infection, so routine cervical cancer screening is important to identify, monitor, and treat health problems that may be caused by HPV infection.
- Vaccination. The HPV vaccine is safe and effective. It can protect you from diseases caused by HPV (including cancer).
- Screening for cervical cancer. Routine screening of women between the ages of 21 and 65 is one of the most effective methods of preventing cervical cancer.
If you are sexually active:
- Using a condom Correctly, every time during sexual intercourse. This may reduce the chances of getting HPV. But HPV can infect areas that are not covered by condoms. Thus, condoms do not completely protect you from HPV infection;
- Bilateral monogamous sexual contact.
Vaccination should be carried out:
- All adolescents (including boys and girls) are 11 or 12 years old (or may start at 9 years old);
- All persons under 26 years of age (unless already vaccinated);
Vaccination is not recommended for people over 26 years of age. However, some adults between the ages of 27 and 45 who have not yet been vaccinated may decide to get the HPV vaccine after consulting their doctor. HPV vaccination has fewer benefits in this age range.
Contact your doctor for more information about vaccinations.
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