What is HPV?

Human papillomavirus is a virus that affects the skin and surrounding areas of the genitals and can lead to genital warts. It is one of the leading STDs in young women as the one-hundred thirty types of virus are highly contagious through sexual contract. Up to seventy five percent of sexually active people will contract HPV at some point in their lives.

There are high risk and low risk variations of HPV. The higher risk variations of HPV often occur symptomless and can progress to precancerous lesions. These types of HPV are assigned a number – of which most are low risk. The highest risk types of HPV are 16, 18,31,33,35,39,45,51,52,56,58 and 69.

HPV is one of the leading causes of cervical cancer. Up to 26.8% of the population in the United States is infected with one type of the virus. Fifteen percent of women have been infected with the virus at some point in their lives, and 3.4% are infected with one of the types which are protected by the Gardasil vaccine. It is important to remember that one can be affected by more than one type of the HPV virus – regardless of symptoms which are present.

What are the Symptoms of HPV? There are some varieties of HPV that cause symptoms such as genital warts and other variations have no symptoms at all. Regardless of the type, prevention and screening are important parts of diagnoses and therapeutic treatment plans.

Although some variants of HPV are symptomless, pap smears are a preventative technique to detect these precancerous lesions. These are an integral part in the prevention of cervical cancer and should be conducted on a yearly basis for women who are sexual active, or have reached adulthood.

Other symptoms of HPV include genital warts which are non-cancerous skin growths present on the genital area. There are four types of warts that can be caused by HPV viruses: common warts, planter warts, flat warts and subungal warts. Common warts are most commonly found in the genital area and are quite contagious. These warts are one of the most common indications that HPV is present within the bodily system. Types of HPV 6 and 11 are the most common types of HPV that account for more than ninety percent of genital warts.

What treatments are Available for HPV? Treatments available for HPV include the removal of the symptoms, the genital warts by removal using chemical compounds. Though there are is no treatment for HPV, many types will clear without treatment as the response from the immune system is initiated.

Vaccines have been created such as Gardasil and Cervarix to prevent up to four percent of the variants of the HPV virus. These immunizations are effective for women between the ages of sixteen and twenty-four, for the prevention of HPV and genital warts.

To help prevent this virus one can remain abstinent, because avoiding all sexual contact is the only way to be one hundred percent sure that it can be avoided.

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