HUMAN PAPILLOMA VIRUS (HPV)

Human papillomavirus or simply HPV is a viral infection most people get through direct sexual contact or oral sex. There are more than 100 varieties and about 40 of it can cause warts on the genital area, mouth or throat. High-risk types of HPV may lead to cancer.

Most HPV infections has no signs or symptoms and sometimes go away on their own. In that case, Infected people may  have been unknowingly passed the virus to their sexual partners. These are low-risk types of HPV.

Some HPV may cause serious health problems. These includes having warts on the genital area and in the throat (known as recurrent respiratory papillomatosis, or RRP). Cancer on the cervix, head, neck throat and certain genitals may also developed. Cancer has no symptoms until on the later stages so it helps to have a regular screening  to have an early diagnosis of HPV-related health problems.

DIAGNOSIS

In 2014, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first DNA test for HPV. According to the guideline, women should occurently have a Pap test and HPV test starting at age 21. This will help to monitor if there are abnormal cells in a woman’s cervix. Pap test and HPV co-testing should be done every five years with women ages 30 to 65.

However, some HPV infections often go away on their own in one or two years without causing cancer. In this case, you may wait watchfully instead of undergoing treatment for the abnormal cells caused by the infection. Your doctor may also suggest you to undergone colposcopy. This procedure examines the abnormal areas in your vagina and cervix.

If you have new warts or notice other changes after sexual activity, contact your doctor for an assessment.

It is important to note that the HPV test is only available for diagnosing HPV in women. There is currently no FDA-approved test available for diagnosing HPV in men.

 

TREATMENT

Prevention is always better than treatment. Boys and girls may have a vaccination against the virus as early as age 11 or 12. HPV-related cancers are more treatable when diagnosed and treated early so women should get a routine Pap tests. For Genital warts, it can be treated by prescription medication or your healthcare provider. Untreated warts may go away, stay the same, or grow in size or number.

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