The HPV Virus and How it Affects You
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most contracted sexually transmitted disease. This disease has over 40 strains that can affect both men and women. HPV typically affects the genital area, but it can also infect the throat and mouth.
How Do People Contract HPV?
The human papillomavirus can be contracted in several ways. The virus can be transmitted through skin to skin contact and high risk sexual behavior. In rare instances, the HPV virus can be transferred from mother to infant during childbirth.
The HPV virus is found in the body’s mucous membranes that reside in the genital area or on a person’s skin. Many people do not experience any noticeable symptoms. This is due to the fact that the body’s immune system most often eradicates the presence of the virus. However, about ten percent of those infected do experience symptoms. Genital warts are common symptoms. They can occur within weeks or months after sexual contact with someone that is infected. The HPV virus can also cause several types of cancer, including cervical cancer.
HPV and Cancer
Cervical cancer has been linked to certain strains of the HPV virus. The virus can cause changes in the cervix. These changes are referred to as cervical dysplasia. Cervical dysplasia can progress to become cancer. Having a regular pap test will detect irregularities in the cervical cells. Early detection of pre-cancerous activity can catch a problem before it develops into cancer.
Prevention and Treatment
HPV is preventable. Avoiding high risk sexual behaviors, which includes having unprotected sex and sex when someone who has a genital warts outbreak, can prevent infection. Women and men between the ages of nine and twenty-six should get the HPV vaccine. Women should get regular pap tests to determine if there is the presence of the HPV virus. Because this virus can cause cervical cancer, early detection is important to preventing cancer.
There is no cure for the HPV virus and treatment options deal with the virus’s symptoms. Treatment options for the HPV may involve the use of topical creams, cryosurgery, and laser therapy to remove the warts.
The human papillomavirus is a very common type of infection that continues to infect more people each year. Primarily transmitted through high risk sexual behavior, this virus is the cause of genital warts and cancer. While early detection is important, prevention is the best way to deal with this virus.