Human Papilloma Virus
(Human Pap-pill-low-ma Virus)
Human Papilloma Virus, or simply HPV, is the virus causes genital warts and can also cause cervical cancer in women. There are approximately 40 strains of HPV virus that can be passed sexually. The virus infects the skin and the mucous membranes of the mouth, genitals and anus through skin to skin contact, or vaginal, anal, and oral sex. The greatest concern about certain strains of HPV has been the discovery that this virus is often the cause of cervical, penile, anal and certain throat cancers.Follow these links for more information:
- What Are The Symptoms Of Genital Warts Or HPV?
- How Many People Are Infected With HPV?
- How Do I Know If I Am Infected?
- How Are Genital Warts Treated?
- How Can I Prevent HPV Or Genital Warts?
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If you would like more information on HPV, click here.
What Are The Symptoms Of Genital Warts Or HPV?
Many people with HPV will carry the virus but never show any symptoms. When a person does show symptoms they typically include raised bumps on the skin that may be soft, rough or fleshy. These bumps may appear individually or in clusters. Lesions may also be flat and itchy. Changes to the cells of the cervix, vulva, anus, or penis may only be seen by special magnifying equipment.
How Many People Are Infected With HPV?
It is estimated 5 million people become infected with HPV each year, but not everyone gets symptoms. There are approximately 20 million people in the United States that currently are infected.
How Do I Know If I Am Infected?
A visual examination of the genitals can determine if a person has genital warts present. There is no blood test or culture available for screening a male or female without symptoms. A Pap Test with DNA testing can determine if the cervix is infected with HPV.
How Are Genital Warts Treated?
Many people infected with HPV do not know it and if they have a healthy immune system they can usually fight off most of the HPV strains naturally. Genital warts can be treated with a cream, acid, resin, freezing or interferon. If the cervix is infected with HPV, it can be treated with freezing, laser, or a procedure called a Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure, or “LEEP,” where small layers of cervical tissue are removed to prevent the development of cervical cancer.
How Can I Prevent HPV Or Genital Warts?
The primary way to prevent becoming infected with the major strains that cause genital warts and cervical and penile cancer is to get immunized with Gardasil. If you are between the ages of 9-26, male or female, you would be eligible to receive this vaccine. The best way to prevent getting any STD is to not have sex, so naturally avoiding sex is the best way to avoid HPV. Latex condoms, when used every time and correctly, may help to reduce the risk of exposure but not eliminate the risk of transmission of HPV. Limiting the number of sexual partners may also help to reduce the risk of exposure.