HIV might still be the most feared sexually transmitted disease, but it is not the easiest to contract. Human Papilloma Virus popularly known as HPV is one of the leading killer diseases and condoms cannot effectively stop it or protect you from contracting the disease. Human Papilloma Virus is the name for a group of viruses that affect your skin and the moist membranes lining of the body such as the cervix, anus, mouth and throat. There are more than 100 types of HPV, around 30 types of HPV infection can affect the genital area of both males and females. Some other HPV can lead to cancer; especially cervical cancer. HPV is transmitted or spread through sexual intercourse or skin to skin contact of the genital areas with someone who has the virus. HPV can be passed even when an infected person has no signs or symptoms of the disease. Most people with HPV do not know they are infected and develop no symptoms or health problems from it. Some people find out they have HPV when they get genital warts. Women may find out they have HPV when they get abnormal pap test result during cervical cancer screening. Others may only find out once they have developed more serious problems from HPV such as cancers. Women have a much higher risk of contracting the virus than men. Male to female transmission has a 5% higher rate of occurrence than female to male transmission.
An interesting aspect of this particular virus is that you do not need to have sex for it to be passed on from one person to another. The virus is found in the flora of the manhood, scrotum, vagina or anus of the person who has the HP virus. One can get infected through kissing or touching an infected sex organ of the infected person.
Many people believe that full protection when using condoms against most sexually transmitted disease, including HIV/AIDS is the answer to stay safe, but the truth is, according to a research, condoms cannot provide 100% protection against the human Papilloma Virus which spreads through skin to skin contact with infected areas of the skin not covered by the condom such as the male and female genitalia. This is especially serious for women because HPV is a silent killer that can be inactive thus unnoticed for years before it attacks.
The only way to absolutely avoid the risk of HPV infection is to abstain from sex. You can also limit the number of sexual partners you have. However, a long term relationship lowers your risk if the two partners are faithful to each other. It is also important to bear in mind that many people are infected and never know it. Most HPV infections heal with time on their own without any treatment. They can also remain dormant at times and later infect a new or existing sexual partner. It can also be transmitted during birth to an infant causing the infant to experience a genital or respiratory system infection. When genital warts become present they may appear as a small bump, cluster of bumps or stem-like protrusions. They can range in size and appearance and be large, small, flat or cauliflower shaped and may be white or flesh tone. The most common area affected in women includes, the vulva. They can also be present near the anus, on the cervix or within the vagina. Warts in men may appear on the penis, scrotum, or around the anus. In both men and women, the groin may also be another area where genital warts are found. They can also be found on the hands, fingers, elbows and the feet.
If warts or lesions are visible, a health care provider can generally make a diagnosis of HPV during a visual inspection. However, additional test may need to be carried out to evaluate further for the presence of HPV. The test can be carried out using a pap smear to collect cells from the surface of the cervix of the vagina and will reveal any cellular abnormalities that may lead to cancer. The use of a DNA test will evaluate for the high risk type of HPV and is recommended for women between the ages of 30 and older in conjunction with a pap smear.
As mention earlier, some warts may heal without any treatment, however there are applied medications to remove the warts itself and include over the counter salicylic acid for common warts and prescription medication included. In certain situation, surgical intervention may be necessary. It is important to speak with your health care provider about which treatment is best for you depending on the type and location of the warts being treated. It is also important to note that although warts may be removed or resolved, the virus can remain in the body and can be passed to others, as there is no treatment to remove the virus from the body.
There are three vaccines to protect against HPV which are available to males and females between the age of 9 and 26 years. It is believed that overtime, the vaccines which are known as Cervarix, Gardasil and Gardasil-9 will help reduce the spread of the HPV.
By: Mercy Kukah