What is the Human Papillomavirus?
Human Papillomavirus or HPV is a type of sexually transmitted viral infection, although HPV can be harmless and goes away on its own in the most cases, it is estimated that there are more than 200 types of this virus and at least 40 may affect the genital area.
This area is comprised of the vagina, vulva, cervix, as well as the rectum, anus, scrotum and penis, however, it can include the mouth and the throat too.
How is HPV contracted or transmitted?
It is spread during sexual intercourse by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex, this means that almost all people who are sexually active have this virus at some time in their life, without showing signs or symptoms since their body is responsible for expelling it.
The virus is spread when there is skin contact of the genital areas with a person who has HPV, penetration is not even necessary for contagion, only skin rubbing is enough.
What are the symptoms of HPV?
Most people who have the Human Papillomavirus do not have any noticeable symptoms or health problems until the disease has progressed greatly.
The first sign that the person has HPV is that some cases can lead to the development of warts in the genital area and these warts are fleshy and soft bumps,raised or flat, or similar to a cauliflower.
They often do not cause pain and can be removed without major complications, these warts are not dangerous, do not cause cancer and is the symptom of a low-risk HPV.
However, it is recommended to consult with the doctor when some of these symptoms occur such as:
- In the case of women, changes in vulvar skin thickness or color, chronic pain in that area or if they feel any lump.
- For men, the appearance of a painful ulcer in the penis or if there is any change in both the color of the skin of the penis and the thickness.
- Men or women if they experience pain, itching, bleeding or anal discharge.
Prevention and Treatment of Human Papillomavirus
The best way to prevent HPV is with preventive exams,like routine screening for HPV , in this case cytology is the test that will help detect in time the presence of abnormal cells in the cervix.
Keep in mind that this test by itself does not detect a possible cervical cancer, but it can alert you with some anomaly in time.
This disease does not have a cure as such, in the case of low-risk HPV it will go away on its own, in the case of high-risk HPV other tests should be performed to detect why the change in the cells that can trigger in a cancer
As HPV has no cure, treatment focuses more on ways of prevention that is getting vaccinated with HPV, using condoms and having a responsible and safe sex life.
There is a vaccine that helps protect against certain types of HPV that can trigger genital warts even in the development of cancer.
Is very important that all people get vaccinated, children from 9 years can do it, but it is more advisable to start from 11 years or 12 years so that they are protected before they start their sex life.
Research has related that the vaccine is safe and protects in 80% of cases against cervical cancer and in 90% of cases against the types of HPV that produce genital warts.