Information on HPV — What the virus is, and how it affects you
HPV

HPV — Human Papilloma Virus

HPV or the human papilloma virus is a very common sexually transmitted disease. Unfortunately, there is not enough information easily available about this disease. There is no known cure for this virus but treatment is available.

The Many Faces of the HPV Virus

There are over a hundred different types of the HPV virus. Many of them are harmless but some can cause more serious problems. HPV causes different types of warts such as plan tar’s warts and common hand warts. Some types also cause changes in cells and can lead to certain types of cancers such as cervical cancer.

HPV also causes genital warts. HPV is very contagious and sexual intercourse should be avoided when the virus is actively present. The only way to prevent the virus is to avoid contact with someone who has it. You should always use protection during sexual contact. Although not as common, you can even contract HPV from oral sex.

HPV is so common that up to 20 million people in the United States have some form of HPV but most probably don’t even know it.

HPV can often cause abnormal PAP smears in women. These abnormal PAPs are often nothing to worry about but should still be taken seriously because PAP smears can detect cancers early.

HPV can lead to other cancers besides just cervical cancer. It also leads to cancers of the penis, vulva, vagina, anus and more in some people.

It is not really known why some people have HPV that remains and causes cancer and why in some people it goes away on its own. Some women even develop a type of resistance to the virus.

HPV Symptoms

What are the symptoms of HPV? How do you know when you have it? The most obvious sign of HPV is genital warts. The warts may come in pairs or clusters or even just as one alone. On women they can be found anywhere in the genital area and even on the cervix.

Some people may have HPV without genital warts. Some people may only get one or two warts and not think much of it. Other people may get many warts that can even be uncomfortable.

There are both high risk and low risk types of HPV and at least 30 or so types are spread through sexual contact. There is no definite proof that condoms will protect you from HPV but they do help reduce the chances of genital warts.

Genital warts are a lot more common with women than with men. When men do get them, they are usually on the tip of the penis or around the anal area.

HPV Treatment

If you feel you may have HPV, you need to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis and you need to seek treatment. Diagnosis is an important step because it is possible to spread HPV to others even if you have no visible symptoms. This may explain why the virus is so common. People spread it without even knowing that they have it themselves.

Genital warts can be treated with medication your doctor will prescribe and sometimes they even go away on their own. Sometimes with larger warts, they do not respond to regular treatment and you may need to have them removed.

How to Remove Warts

If you do have genital warts that do not go away on their own, you may need to have them removed. There are three ways to remove the warts:

  • Freezing
  • Burning
  • Lasers
There is also research being done to create a vaccine for preventing HPV and also a vaccine to treat cervical cancer. These vaccines are currently being tested and hopefully will be available for use soon.

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