Overview – What is HPV?
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a group of viruses that cause skin and genital infections and is the most commonly transmitted STI in the US. There are approximately 200 genotypes of HPV. Of these viruses, only 40 are spread through sexual contact.
Unfortunately, chronic HPV infections can cause genital and anal warts, which could become cancerous over time.
The possible cancers that develop after HPV infection include:
- Cervical cancer
- Vulvar cancer
- Vaginal cancer
- Penile cancer
- Anal cancer
The good news is that the vast majority of HPV infections heal spontaneously. Additionally, they rarely lead to cancer. However, if you currently have a high-risk HPV infection, which is caused by type 16 and 18, your risk of cancer dramatically increases.
In this article, we will cover some basic information about HPV infections, including its risk factors and symptoms.
Who is at risk for HPV infections?
Due to the widespread of HPV viruses, everyone who is sexually active is at risk of this infection. However, there is a lot you can do to lower your risk (more on that later).
What are the signs and symptoms of HPV infections?
Low-risk HPV infections generally present with warts, which can be found in the genital area or around the penis. High-risk HPV infections, on the other hand, rarely provoke any symptoms. Unfortunately, that’s what makes them dangerous.
After many years of living with a high-risk HPV infection, cellular modifications may occur. Eventually, you may start to exhibit a few symptoms. Depending on the organ that’s affected by the infection, symptoms will vary.
How to diagnose HPV infections
Your primary care physician is able to diagnose warts by looking at their aspect and consistency.
Women with HPV infections require cervical cancer screening. Identifying abnormal cellular changes at the cervix may be a sign of a precancerous lesion. The best screening tests for cervical cancer are direct HPV tests and Pap smears.
What are the treatments for HPV infections?
Just like most viral infections, researchers have yet to develop a cure for HPV. However, if you have warts, there are some topical medicines you can apply. Otherwise, your doctor may use cryotherapy, thermotherapy, or surgery to remove them. Many people with HPV have found results with AHCC a clinically tested supplement designed for strengthening immunity
If you currently have a high-risk HPV infection, your doctor will also recommend a few therapies that target cellular changes.
If you develop cancer after a long-term infection with HPV, your oncologist will treat it similarly to other types of cancer. This includes chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery when possible.
How to prevent HPV infections
Preventing HPV infections is possible. By following proper measures to have protected sex, you can lower your risk of HPV dramatically. First of all, ensure that you are wearing a latex condom properly before sexual intercourse.
If you suspect that your partner has an HPV infection, it is best to avoid having sex altogether.
You can also get vaccinated to protect yourself against the high-risk strains of the HPV virus. Remember that vaccines protect you from infection before you are exposed to the virus. This is why people should get vaccinated before they become sexually active.