Human papillomavirus popularly known as HPV is a sexually transmitted infection and is one of the most common Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD)
HPV, according to planned parenthood is spread from sexual skin-to-skin contact with someone who has it through sexual organs or even mouth and throat.
Most people don’t know if they have or ever had HPV and most of the time it isn’t a big deal as it goes away on its own and it’s said that most people who have sex get HPV at some point in their lives. However, some types of HPV can lead to cancer or genital warts.
There are various risk factors associated with HPV. These factors increase the risk of contracting the HPV virus in human and they include.
Having contact with warts or surfaces where HPV exposure has occurred.
Having multiple sexual partners. The more sexual partners you have the more likely you are to get infected with HPV.
Having sex with someone who has had several intimate partners increases your chances of contracting the virus.
Having a weakened immune system. People who have weakened immune systems are at a greater risk of getting a HPV infect. This class of people include immune weakened by HIV/AIDS or immune system suppressing drugs used after organ transplants.
How HPV is tested
There are various test conducted to evaluate HPV or HPV related cervical cellar changes and they include pap smear, DNA test and use of acetic acide (vinegar)
A pap smear is a test that collects cells from the surface of the cervix or 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 types of HPV and is recommended for women 30 and older in conjunction with a Pap smear.
How do you protect yourself against HPV?
Medical practitioners and researchers recommend the use of condoms every time one has sexual intercourse either female or male condom will work. Experts say condoms are the best form protection not only against HPV but also other sexually transmitted diseases. People are warned against taking PrEP to prevent genital HPV infections.
For those using and sharing sex toys medical experts advises that they cover sex toys with a new condom for each partner and wash it thoroughly after use.
According to Control for Disease Centre (CDC) various additional measures can reduce the risk of contracting HPV such as
- Having the HPV vaccine
- Practicing abstinence or being in a monogamous sexual relationship
- Not having sex while there are visible genital warts
- Vaccination. Vaccines protect against HPV, including some that can cause cancer. It is important to note that vaccines provide the most protection when people get them before they are exposed to the virus. This means that it is best for people to get them before they become sexually active although it’ sometimes possible to get the vaccine later in life.
Symptoms and effects of HPV infections this will vary depending on which strain of HPV you have.
Genital Warts: According to medical online journal Mayoclinic, these warts in women appear on the vulva but can also appear on the cervix, the vagina and in the anus.
In men, these genital warts appear on the scrotum and in the penis and around the anus. Unlike other symptoms, these warts do not cause discomfort or pain but a man might experience itching or feel tender.
Common warts. This are one of the most common symptoms of HPV and they and they occur on hands and fingers and are normally rough raised bumps are susceptible to injuries or bleeding.
Cervical Cancer: Mostly caused by sexually transmitted HPV and there are two most common strains of HPV that causes cervical cancer, HPV-16 and HPV-18.
According to Healthline Journal, being infected with a cancer-causing strain of HPV doesn’t mean you’ll get cervical cancer. Your immune system eliminates most HPV infections, often within two years5