This is one of the most commonly passed around viruses out there, with over 100 variants, but it still ranks among the least talked about, with very little precaution taken against it. This article aims to spotlight the reality of the Human Papilloma Virus, commonly known as HPV, its dangers, and why you need to get HPV test today.
What is HPV?
HPV stands for Human Papilloma Virus. Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus that’s passed between people through skin-to-skin contact. In other words, it is spread through vaginal, anal, or oral sex. In fact, HPV infection is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the world!
Does it surprise you? Are you wondering why you hardly hear about it?
This is because it shows little or no symptoms in most people. HPV infections are so rampant in society that as of 2018 about a 43million people were documented to have HPV in the United States alone. The statistics in Nigeria are undocumented, however, the cases of infections from HPV seem to be so rampant that it is safe to assume that it is similarly as common in this part of the world.
Why you should care about Human Papillomavirus
Ever heard of warts? Or the most dreaded Cervical cancer?
Certain strains of HPV are behind these and many other conditions.
There are so many strains of HPV and about 14 of them have been identified as high-risk causative organisms for these infections.
Here is a list of infections caused by HPV ;
- Tree man’s disease
- Vulvar Cancer
- Anal Cancer
- Throat Cancer
- Cervical Cancer
We will now delve into each of them as a reason you must get HPV test as soon as you can.
Warts are the most common physical manifestation of the HPV infection. A wart is a small fleshy bump on the skin or mucous membrane and it can be caused by multiple strains of the HPV Virus, especially 6 and 11. It can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact during sexual intercourse.
It is easily self-diagnosable and can be treated by a medical professional. The bumps can go after treatment however the HPV infection remains. This means warts can reappear again in certain situations of immunocompromised state. The most common location for warts is the genitals, however, certain strains have been noticed to be able to affect other parts of the body.
TREE MAN’S SYNDROME
This is also known as Epidermodysplasia verruciformis (EV). It is an extremely rare autosomal recessive hereditary skin disorder that leads to a high risk of Skin Cancer. In this condition, the sufferer is abnormally susceptible to HPV on the skin which causes the growth of scaly macules and papules that look like the bark of a tree. These erruptiona are lifelong, can appear early in life (1-20) and some cases progress to cutaneous carcinomas
The HPV Strains that have been noted to cause this are majorly HPV 5 and 8. Other types that can cause this condition are 12,14,15 and 17.
The Vulva is the fleshy part that surrounds the clitoris and the upper part/entrance of the vagina. Like many other parts of the body it is covered by skin and so is a part of the body that the HPV infection latches onto. Just as the vulvar area is susceptible to warts, it can also react to the virus by causing abnormal growth of the subcutaneous cells and this can evolve into cancer. Vulvar cancer can affect the subcutaneous epithelium, the melanocytes, and even Bartholin’s gland(the gland that secretes vaginal fluid).
ANAL AND THROAT CANCER
Because HPV is sexually transmitted, it can attach to the skin around the genitals including the anus. However anal cancer is more common in homosexual men and women who practice anal sex. Throat cancer is also common in people who practice oral sex with partners who are HPV positive. These cancers are not as common as the much-dreaded Cervical cancer but are just as serious.
This is the 2nd leading cause of cancer-related female deaths, after breast cancer. It is a serious cause of concern because most of the above-mentioned cases are noticed and diagnosed at an advanced stage when little or nothing can be done to save the patient in those situations. This is because the cervix is way up at the neck of the uterus and is not readily visible to the eyes, thus changes on the cervix are not noticed until the cells have invaded deeply and even spread to neighboring organs. The symptoms include
- Bleeding during or after sex
- Pain during sex
- Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
- lower abdominal pain amongst others.
There are certain factors apart from HPV infection that can increase the risk of Cervical cancer like
- Early child marriage/Early sexual exposure
- Multiple partners
- Multiple pregnancies
- Women above 40 years of age
The 2 major strains that have been implicated in this condition are HPV 16 and 18 which have been seen in over 70% of cases. Other strains include 31,33, 45, 52, 58 amongst others.
Thankfully there are now ways to prevent developing this cancer or late-stage discovery by monitoring and watching out for abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix called the PAP SMEAR test. You can take the test here.
Can HPV infection be prevented?
Safe sexual habits are advised, however, the most effective way is to get vaccinated before you get a chance to come in contact with the virus. Vaccinate your children once they become of age, and before they attain their first sexual intercourse. It is advisable that both boys and girls be vaccinated. You can get HPV test if you are already a sexually active person, and if you have not gotten the infection, then you can also take the vaccine.
Is there a cure if you are already infected?
No, there is no cure if you have already contracted the virus. It is best you constantly boost your immunity, practice safer sexual activities and do regular screening to avoid developing any major conditions.
What is the next step to take now?
- Book and Get HPV test today
- Get Vaccinated
- As a woman of reproductive age, do a Pap Smear test every 2 years and every year after the age of 40.
Visit www.healthtracka.com for more information