In fact, the virus is not one — there are many of them, up to 200 species HPV / MedlinePlus . Most human papillomavirus (HPV) viruses are safe. However, about 40 of them are happy to attack people's genitals, and at least 14, according to Cervical cancer / WHO WHO, are oncogenic, that is, they can provoke cancer.
Women are most often affected. It is HPV that causes cervical cancer in 70% of cases — the second most common type of malignant tumors among women in developed countries. But men are also at risk: the human papillomavirus can trigger cancer of the anus, penis and oropharynx.
Which type of HPV — oncogenic or not — you got, you can't tell right off the bat. But the fact that you have it is almost certain. Approximately 80% of sexually active people are infected.
Human papillomavirus is the most common sexually transmitted infection.
It is noteworthy that most HPV victims do not even realize that they are infected. For objective reasons, however.
HPV is an insidious thing. Often it does not manifest itself at all. Sometimes signs occur Genital HPV Infection – Basic Fact Sheet / CDC many years after infection. So it is difficult to determine when exactly the infection entered the body.
The most obvious (but not mandatory) symptom is the appearance of growths on the skin of any part of the body. Papillomas, warts, warts are all HPV.
Fortunately, most often within a year or two they pass by themselves and do not pose a health hazard. But if the symptoms of HPV persistently do not disappear, and especially if papillomas and warts have appeared on the genitals or in the mouth and throat, it is necessary to consult a therapist, gynecologist or urologist.
With a prolonged chronic form of HPV, it can lead to changes in cells that eventually turn into malignant. On average, 10-20 years pass from infection to the development of cancer.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for the virus itself. Therapy is reduced to the elimination of symptoms and the fight against the possible consequences of HPV — precancerous and cancerous conditions.
Warts and papillomas are usually physically removed by different methods. Choosing the most effective and safe one will help you a doctor — a dermatologist, gynecologist, urologist or ENT (if we are talking about growths in the oropharynx).
Precancerous and cancerous conditions can also be cured — the more successful the earlier the disease is detected. Therefore, WHO recommends that all women over the age of 30 do Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Test regular pap test (Pap smear) — when examined by a gynecologist, take a smear that will help identify precancerous changes in the cervical mucosa. As a rule, it is enough to undergo the procedure once every five years. But if the doctor thinks that in your case it is necessary more often, listen to his opinion.
Screenings are not recommended for men HPV and Men — Fact Sheet / CDC . Just do not forget to consult a doctor if you suddenly notice something unusual ‑ soreness, growth, tumor — in the area of the genitals, anus or oropharynx. Regular examination by a urologist (for men over 40 years old — preferably at least once a year) will reduce the risk of missing something really serious.
HPV is a disease that is easier to prevent than to treat. The most reliable way to do this is to get vaccinated. But there is a nuance. Vaccination is most effective only if the body has never encountered a virus before. Therefore, WHO recommends vaccinating children aged 9-14 years, before the onset of sexual activity. Ideally — 11-12 years old.
If you do not have time to get vaccinated on time, you can be vaccinated until the age of 21 (for boys) and up to 26 years (for girls).
To lower the HPV infection / Mayo Clinic risk of HPV infection at an older age: