Human Papillomavirus Information
Contrary to popular belief, HPV also known as human papillomavirus is not a single virus, it consists of over 100 viruses. Germs that cause this virus are very common and can cause anything from warts on the hand and feet to cervical cancer. However, some strains of this virus are asymptomatic and can bring about deadly consequences in the long run.
In most instances, the body’s immune system is able to eliminate HPV from the body with no treatment regime but being aware of HPV testing and prevention will give you a better chance of avoiding this life-threatening infection
HPV is very common
You are not alone
A majority of sexually active individuals get HPV at one point or another in their lives. According to CDC: US Center for Disease Control, two thirds of adolescent girls have HPV and up to 80 percent of women get HPV before they reach 50. However, majority of theses infections clear out on their own but in other cases, the infections cause cellular changes that might result in complications such as cervical cancer
There are different strains of HPV
There are over 170 strains of HPV and more are being discovered. The good news is, not all cause problems. 40 strains can be spread easily through vaginal, oral and anal sex while over 12 (including HPV 18 and 16) cause cancer.
Men can also get HPV
HPV is the most prevalent cause of cervical cancer and is associated with 99 percent of cases. However, men can also infected by HPV. According to CDC, a majority of men get infected at one point of their life but most infections are cleared off by the body’s immune system. But if the infection persists, it might bring about penile, anal or throat cancer HPV can cause or bring about.
HPV warts are mostly prevalent in the genital area but can also manifest themselves in the throat in a condition known as RRP or recurrent respiratory papillomatosis. These growths can cause hoarseness, chronic coughing and even breathing problems. Surgical procedures are the common treatment but an individual might have to undergo several surgeries as the warts tend to grow back.
As much as HPV is majorly associated with cervical cancer, it also causes throat cancer. Medical experts even estimate that by 2020 HPV might be bringing about more cases of throat cancer than cervical cancer.
Oral sex can transmit HPV
As much as drinking and smoking are the leading causes of throat cancer, up to 3 percent of or throat cancer cases are caused by HPV. It is estimated 80 percent of sexually active people between the ages of 14 and 44 have had oral sex at one point in their lives. According to Lois Ramondetta an oncology professor at the University of Texas, more and more cases of neck and head cancer are brought about by HPV infections
Brushing teeth might protect you against HPV
According to a recent study carried out on 3500 individuals, it was found out that people with good oral hygiene stood a better chance of not contracting HPV: 56 percent of individuals with poor oral hygiene had HPV. Scientists are yet to establish the relationship between HPV and oral hygiene but this is one reason you should be brushing your teeth regularly.
There’s a HPV vaccine
There are actually two vaccines for HPV; Gardasil which protects against HPV 11 and 6 that cause genital herpes licensed in 2006 and Cervarix which was licensed in 2009 and protects against HPV 18 and 16 which cause cervical cancer.
A single shot might be enough
For both vaccines, an individual requires 3 shots but research has shown that a single dose might just be enough. According to a 4 year research, a single dose vaccine showed similar effectiveness like when compared to a 3 dose vaccine regime. However, it is advisable to stick to the recommended 3
Vaccination: the younger, the better
Look to great outlooks!
As a rule, the vaccine should be given to girls between the ages of 11 or 12 years but can also be administered to girls as young as nine reason being, they have not be come sexually active. This makes the vaccine more effective.
Boys can also get vaccinated
Boys between the ages of 11 and 12 can be vaccinated using the gardasila vaccine. Though HPV related cancers are not common, there are around 9000 HPV reed cases reported each year. This vaccine will help protect the boy in future as well as indirectly protecting girls from transmission
HPV vaccine and is it safe?
According to Dr Ramondetta, over 150 million doses of the HPV vaccine are issued each year and are completely safe though one might feel a little pain when injected. Studies also showed no difference in sexual activity between girls who had received these vaccines compared to those who had not: contrary to the popular belief that vaccinated girls tend to be more promiscuous
Vaccination might be free
According to a ruling effected in January 2011, individuals under the Affordable Healthcare Act can get the vaccine free of charge. For others, the vaccine goes for 130 dollars per dose
HPV vaccine not recommended for over 26
Most people over the age of 26 have already been exposed to HPV and vaccination is useless. However, routine screening for cervical cancer is highly recommended as it can detect cancer in the early treatable stages. As such, cervical screening and Pap smear tests are highly recommended for women between the ages of 21 and 65
There are new tests for HPV
The Pap smear test has been in use since the 1950s. however, 5 other tests for HPV have been approved in the last decade which according to Dr Ramondetta, can go a long way in determining which individuals having HPV are more likely to get cancer.
Pap test still a must
It is highly recommended that women vaccinated or not should get a pap test every three years from the age of 21. Vaccinations are effective against HPV 18 and 16 which cause 75 percent of cervical cancer but there are other HPV strains that also cause cervical cancer hence the need for testing. According to Dr Ramondetta, women between the ages of 65 and 30 should have a HPV and pap test every 5 years of a HPV test every 3 years as they are highly susceptible
Women highly susceptible to transmitting HPV
According to a new study, women are highly susceptible to transmitting HPV. The risk of infection is higher in male partners by 60 percent as compared to female partners; this is according to the Journal of Infectious Diseases. Lead author Nyitray. G. Allan who holds a PHD and is an epidemiology assistant professor at school of Public Health, University of Texas says that, there is a huge amount of infection from women to men so, why should we not vaccinate men?
Gardner, Amanda, “17 Things You Should Know About HPV” Health Magazine. Health Magazine, n.d. Web. 9 Jun. 2014.