HPV is a sexually transmitted virus affecting both sexes. If left untreated, the Human Papilloma Virus can become life-threatening as it creates favorable environment for the onset of cervical cancer, one of the deadliest types of cancer among women. The article below focuses on the most important fact about the dangerous virus, the early symptoms and, possible treatment.
To start with, the human papilloma virus (HPV) comprises a group of viruses that primarily affect the human skin. According to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition of the United States, NCCC, there are over 100 different types of this virus. Actually, some types of HPV cause common warts on the hands and feet; they are typically harmless, don’t give any symptoms, and disappear on their own.
However, nearly 40 types of this virus are described as genital HPV owing to the fact that they attack the genital area. Genital HPV is highly predominant as approximately 80% of both male and female contract at least one type of it at some point of their lives. Genital HPV types are a serious risk factor for cervical pre-cancer and cancer. These also increase the risk of genital warts and benign cervical changes.
The most common way of HPV transmission is through direct skin to skin contact. Any kind of sexual activity with an HPV infected person that involves genital contact results in contracting the virus. This is not necessarily limited to sexual intercourse. And, since many people who have HPV don’t show any signs or symptoms, they easily transmit the virus without being aware of it.
Moreover, a person can have more than one type of HPV. According to health experts, a large number of people contract their first type of HPV infection within the first few years of becoming sexually active.
TEN FACTS ABOUT HPV YOU SHOULD KNOW SO YOU CAN STAY HEALTHY:
- HPV is easily spread through direct skin to skin contact. As sexual intercourse is not necessary, any kind of sexual activity involving genital contact will lead to genital HPV infection.
- In general, HPV infection does not give any signs or symptoms, so most people don’t even know of having it. This is one of the main reasons why most people get infected. On the plus side, the human body is able to fight this infection on its own, providing the immune system is at its best.
- The majority of the HPV types are not life-threatening, but they do put you at a higher risk of cancer because they change the cell structure of the cervix turning it into cervical cancer. If women leave the “low-risk” types of the virus untreated, benign (abnormal but non-cancerous) changes in the cervix can develop. Over time, this can set the ground for cervical cancer.
- A number of studies confirm that women infected with the high-risk HPV are more susceptible to developing cervical cancer in the next 10 – 20 years. That’s why all women, including women are no longer sexually active, are strongly advises to have routine gynecologic exams.
- The National Cervical Cancer Coalition recommends that women over 30 should do the Pap smear test regularly as it can detect abnormal cells in the cervix, which may result in cervical cancer.
- It’s also good to know that infections in women over 30 are less likely to be treated by the body’s immune response. That’s why visiting the gynecologist and getting a proper treatment is extremely important.
- Providing it’s discovered in its early stage, cervical cancer is 100% preventable, according to the National Library of Medicine of the United States (US National Library of Medicine).
- Although effective in reducing the risk of HPV transmission, neither male nor female condoms can eliminate the risk of infection completely.
- The HPV type 16 has been linked to some types of head and neck cancers.
- Recent research has linked nearly 30% of oral carcinomas to HPV infections.