What is human papillomavirus infection?
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a viral infection that’s transmitted from one person to another through close contact. More than 100 varieties of HPV exist at the moment, and 40% of them are transmitted through sexual exchange and can impact your genitals, mouth, or throat. Experts suggest that HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease. The prevalence of the disease can be gauged from the fact that a majority of sexually active people contract some form of the infection at some point, despite having few sexual partners.
Although some cases of genital infection may not lead to any health issues, some types of HPV can trigger the development of genital lumps and even cancers of the cervix, anus, and throat.
The virus that leads to HPV infection is communicated through skin-to-skin contact. Most people get a genital infection through direct sexual contact, but since HPV is a skin-to-skin infection, copulation isn’t mandatory for spread to occur. Although many people have the infection, they are not aware of it, which means you can still get it even if your companion doesn’t have any symptoms. It’s also possible to have several types of HPV.
Rarely, a mother who has HPV can communicate the virus to her baby during delivery. When this occurs, the child may develop a condition in which they develop warts inside their throat or airways.
Often, HPV infection doesn’t cause any prominent symptoms or health glitches. In fact, 90% of the infections disappear on their own within two years, but, since the virus is still in an individual’s body during this time, that individual may unwittingly transmit the virus. When the virus doesn’t go away itself, it can lead to grave health issues, including genital lumps and warts in the throat. The infection can also lead to cervical cancer and other cancers of the genitals, head, neck, and throat.
Because the types of HPV that lead to lumps are different from the types that cause cancer, having genital lumps caused by the infection doesn’t mean that you’ll develop cancer.
Cancers caused by the papillomavirus infection has no symptoms until the cancer reaches the final stages of growth. Regular screenings can help detect virus-related health glitches earlier, which can help improve outlook and raise chances of survival.
Guidelines from the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) indorse that women have their first HPV test, or Pap smear, at age 21, irrespective of start of sexual activity. Regular HPV tests help to detect irregular cells in women, which can indicate cervical cancer or other HPV-related issues. Women ages 21 to 29 should have just an HPV test every three years, while from ages 30 to 65, women should do one of the following:
obtain an HPV test every 3 years
have an HPV test every 5 years; it will screen for high-risk types of the infection
take both tests together every 5 years; this is known as co-testing
Separate tests are favored over co-testing, as per the USPSTF.
If you’re younger than age 30, your physician may also request a human papillomavirus infection test if your test results are anomalous. There a minimum of 14 strains of HPV that can cause cancer. If you have one of these strains, your clinician may want to screen you for cervical changes.
It’s important for you to get an HPV test more regularly. Your clinician may also request a follow-up process, such as a colposcopy. Cervical changes that cause cancer often take many years to grow, and HPV infections often disappear themselves without causing cancer. You may want to follow a course of vigilant waiting rather than undergo treatment for irregular or precancerous cells.
It’s important to keep in mind that the Human Papillomavirus Infection test is only available for detecting the infection in women. There’s presently no FDA-approved test available for spotting HPV in men. According to a reliable source, regular screening for anal, throat, or penile cancer in men is not recommended at the moment.
Some physicians may carry out an anal HPV test for men that have a bigger risk for developing anal cancer. This includes men who are involved in anal sex and men with Human Papillomavirus Infection.