The human papillomavirus (HPV) can be described as a group of more than 100 viruses. These viruses are quite common and can cause everything from warts on your feet and hands to sexually transmitted genital warts and cervical cancer. The good thing about HPV is that your body can sometimes eliminate the viruses without the need for treatment. Nevertheless, the more information you have about HPV, the better chance you will have to prevent any life-threatening consequences of this virus.
Things You Have to Know About HPV
1. What is HPV?
HPV is the most sexually transmitted infection and is a virus that has infected over 80 million Americans, especially those in their early 20s and late teens. There are very many types of HPV and although most are harmless, several can cause health issues like genital warts and cancers. You can get a HPV vaccine, which can help prevent these health issues from happening.
2. How do you get HPV?
HPV can be spread through vaginal, oral, and anal sex. The virus can be spread even when an infected individual does not show any signs of infection. Every sexually active person can contract HPV, even when he/she has sex with just one person.
3. HPV Symptoms
HPV symptoms take long to show. Therefore, it is hard to know whether someone has HPV just by looking for plantar wart on the genitals. However, the symptoms might show with time. Hence, if you happen to identify genital warts, you may be having HPV. The only best way to discover HPV is to be tested.
4. HPV can Cause Cancer
As aforementioned, HPV can cause different kinds of cancers including cancer of the vagina, vulva, anus, and penis. The virus can also cause cancer in the back of the throat, the tonsils, and on the base of the tongue. Cancer caused by HPV warts on tongue and throat is called oropharyngeal cancer.
5. HPV is Quite Common
Sexually active individuals have a very high chance of contracting HPV. In fact, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 80% women are infected with the virus before the age of 50. In addition to this, more than 50% of adolescent girls have HPV. At most times, HPV infections go away on their own. However, the condition can persist, causing cellular alterations in the body that can lead to health issues like cervical cancer.
6. Males Get it Too
HPV is mostly seen in women, especially those with cervical cancer. In fact, 99% of women with cervical cancer have been found to have HPV. Although the virus is very common in women, it can also affect men. A research by the CDC shows that all sexually active men contract HPV at some point in their lives. Just like in women, the infection disappears by its own. Nevertheless, if it persists, it can cause serious health conditions like cancer.
7. HPV Has Many Forms
New forms of HPV are been discovered on a daily basis. In fact, over 150 forms of HPV have been discovered now. The good thing is that most of these do not cause any problems. Only about 12 of them have been known to have detrimental effects.
8. HPV Testing is Different for Men and Women
“Should I get tested for HPV?” Just like many people, you might be wondering whether to take a HPV test. If you think you might have the virus, it is good to be tested. When it comes to HPV testing, you should understand that men and women are tested differently. In women, the test is mostly done through a pap smear. As for the men, there is no HPV test to detect genital HPV. The only thing a doctor can do is analyze the genital area and check for HPV symptoms. However, anal Pap smear can be done on high-risk men who engage in anal sex.
9. There is no Cure for HPV
There is no treatment for HPV but the health conditions associated with it can be treated. For instance, genital warts and cancer can be treated when diagnosed early.
10. How to Prevent HPV Contraction
The best way to prevent HPV contraction is to be vaccinated and engage in sexual contact with one person who only has sex with you.
HPV is a very common sexually transmitted disease. Due to this, it should be a major concern for any sexually active individual. This is because HPV leads to a variety of serious health conditions like warts and cancer. The good thing is that HPV infections are not very serious, unless yours is a special case. Nevertheless, it is still important to understand about the condition so that you can prevent it in the future.