HPV, which stands for Human Papilloma Virus, is a virus that affects both women and men. There are many different strains of HPV, some of which can cause serious health problems. It’s important to be aware of HPV and how to protect yourself from it. This blog will discuss what HPV is, the risks it poses, and how you can avoid getting infected.
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection. However HPV is not always the result of sexual interaction. There are actually over 200 different types of HPV. Of the 200 different types, approximately 40 of them are sexually related.
How is HPV spread?
The HPV virus can only survive on skin cells. Therefore, the virus is mostly spread by skin-to-skin contact from an infected individual. In the case of HPV not spread through sexual interaction, the virus can be spread through various other ways, such as:
- Having direct contact with a wart
- Touching something contaminated by the virus, such as towels or shower floors
What are the different types of HPV?
As mentioned above, there are over 200 different types of HPV. The type of wart depends on what body part was affected, and how. Examples are as follows:
- Hands – Most commonly known as warts, and not sexually related
- Feet – Known as plantar warts, these are often caused by walking in public showers without foot protection
- Face – Flat warts can affect the face and forehead
- Genitals – This is the result of sexual contacted with an infected individual
Risks of HPV
Fortunately, most cases of HPV will go away on their own. After being infected with the virus, the body typically eradicates it within one to three years. For some, it remains, causing cellular changes that lead to cancer. While most associate HPV with cervical cancer, it can also result in other types of cancer, such as
- Oral and Throat
Screening and Prevention
The HPV Vaccine can protect you from multiple types of the virus, including some that can cause cancer. For the vaccine to be most effective, it should be given prior to potential exposure to HPV, therefore prior to becoming sexually active.
A pap test can screen for cell changes on the cervix, of which could develop into cervical cancer. It is important for women to schedule their regular gynecologic exams in an effort to prevent or limit illnesses such as cancer. Speak with your doctor on how frequently you should schedule these exams.
Dr. Jeyalingam encourages all patients to comply with preventative gynecological visits to stay informed and healthy!