How is Human Papillomavirus transmitted?
Did you know that about 14 million people a year get the Human Papillomavirus infection for the first time? There are more than 100 types of HPV, of which at least 13 are oncogenic (also known as high-risk).
There are other conditions and cancers caused by HPV that occur in people living in the United States. Each year, about 21,000 HPV-related cancers could be prevented with the HPV vaccine.
WHAT IS IT?
HPV is a virus other than HIV and HSV (herpes).
There are many different types of HPV. Some types can cause health problems such as genital warts and cancers. But there are vaccines that can prevent these health problems from happening.
HOW IS IT SPREAD?
Oral, vaginal, or anal sex with someone who carries the virus.
Transmission is most common during vaginal or anal intercourse.
HPV can be spread even when the infected person has no signs or symptoms.
Anyone who is sexually active can get HPV.
The younger you are, the greater the risk of getting the infection because your cervix and immune system are still immature.
High-risk sexual practices, including having multiple sexual partners and not using a condom.
Deficiency of folate and vitamins A, C, and E due to an inadequate diet, usually caused by eating few fruits and vegetables.
Weak immune system (HIV/AIDS, lupus, or scleroderma - a chronic degenerative disease affecting the skin, joints, and internal organs)
Use of birth control pills, chemotherapy, or immunosuppressants in women who have had transplants.
In most cases, HPV goes away on its own and does not cause any health problems.
70% of infections go away in 1 year and 90% in 2 years.
When the infection persists - between 5 and 10% - there is a risk of developing precancerous lesions.
This process normally takes between 15 and 20 years, giving many opportunities for detection and treatment of precancerous lesions, often with high cure rates.
When HPV does not go away, it can cause health problems such as:
Small lumps or clusters of lumps in the genital area.
They may be small or large, flat or raised, or cauliflower-shaped.
More than half a million people worldwide develop genital warts each year.
The neck of the uterus (70% of cases have HPV as a cause)
Globally, it is the fourth most common cancer in women.
Tongue or tonsils (oropharyngeal)
Risk factors that increase the risk of HPV becoming cervical cancer
Beginning sexual intercourse at an early age.
Frequent partner changes.
Immunosuppression (e.g., HIV-infected people are at increased risk of HPV infection and have infections caused by a broader spectrum of HPV).
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE HPV?
It can usually take years - even decades - for cancer to appear after a person has contracted HPV.
There is no test to determine whether or not a person has HPV. There is also no approved HPV test to determine if HPV is present in the mouth or throat.
Pap tests are very important tests for finding abnormal cells in the cervix that are caused by human papillomavirus.
There is also a human papillomavirus test for women, but it is only used in certain situations. Health care providers may recommend the test:
Women, as a follow-up method after a Pap test that detects abnormal cells, or when Pap test results are unclear
Women over age 30 when they had a Pap smear
Some people find out they have HPV when they have genital warts.
HOW TO PREVENT IT?
Vaccine. HPV vaccines are safe and effective. They can protect men and women against diseases caused by HPV (including cancer).
HPV vaccines are given in three shots over a six-month period. It is important to get all three doses.
They should be vaccinated:
All boys and girls 11 or 12 years old should be vaccinated.
Men up to age 21 who have not received it before and for women up to age 26, if they were not vaccinated when they were younger.
People with weakened immune systems (including people with HIV/AIDS) up to age 26, if they did not get the full vaccine when they were younger.
Cervical cancer screening test.
Routine testing in women ages 21 to 65 can prevent cervical cancer.
There is no treatment for the virus itself, but there are treatments for the health problems that HPV can cause.
Myths and realities
1. Using a condom prevents 100% false HPV, the condom helps protect but does not prevent HPV transmission, as the base of the penis is exposed and can transmit the virus.
2. HPV is spread by using dirty bathrooms False, HPV is spread by having sexual contact with a partner who has the virus
3. The man is the carrier and is the one who spreads the virus to the woman False, the man is not the only vector, since both men and women can be carriers of HPV and transmit the virus to their partner.
4. Only women have HPV, men do not have False, men can also have it and have consequences such as cancer of the penis, anus, throat and genital warts.
5. Having HPV means that your partner cheated on you False. HPV infection goes unnoticed and may have occurred at the beginning of sexual life with another partner. This infection persists for years until it manifests itself.
6. If you are sexually active or have an HPV infection, the vaccine is no longer useful False, the HPV vaccine offers protection even if you are sexually active and/or have had previous infections, as it helps prevent future infections.
7. Once you've had an HPV infection, you can't spread it again.
False, because if you have sex with a partner infected with the virus, you can become infected again.
8. The HPV infection is not cured. False, HPV can be eliminated by our immune system. Except in a small fraction of infections (about 10%) the virus escapes the body's defenses and a persistent infection sets in.