You've definitely heard of the virus, but how much do you know about the causes and symptoms?
8 December 2019| Last updated on 8 December 2019
Most, if not all of us, understand how HPV affects women worldwide - but do you truly know the facts?
HPV stands for human papillomavirus, and it's the most common sexually transmitted infection. Although usually harmless, some strains of HPV can lead to cancer and other conditions.
Despite being incurable, there's a lot you can do to keep HPV from having a negative impact on your life. There are also certain vaccines you can have to protect you from getting certain types of the virus.
To shed more light on HPV, Dr. Miriam Klimek, Specialist Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Mediclinic Dubai Mall, shares 10 facts about the virus and what you should know about the HPV.
1. HPV infection is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the world. Around 70-80% of all women will be infected by HPV before the age of 50.
2. There are different kinds of HPV. High-risk HPV can cause cancer, low-risk HPV merely cases benign lesions such as warts. However, not every infection leads to health problems, and many of them show no symptoms.
3. HPV in the genital area can cause abnormal cell changes in the cervix. They can be detected with a PAP smear - a swab taken from the surface of the cervix - which should be done everything one to three years.
4. Certain HPVs can cause cancer of the cervix, vagina, vulva, anus, penis, and in the throat. This happens commonly when an HPV infection and abnormal cell changes persist for a long period of time.
5. Most HPV infections clear themselves within two years. As soon as the infection is gone, the abnormal cell changes will normalise again.
6. HPV is transmitted through sexual intercourse and skin-to-skin contact. Transmission through household items like toilets, towels, and baths are not documented.
7. There is no treatment for HPV, but health problems (like abnormal cell changes and warts) associated with HPV can be treated.
8. Condoms are useful for prevention but do not protect 100% from HPV infection as the virus can also be transmitted by skin to skin contact. However, the condom reduces the risk and protects also from other sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV.
9. Vaccination reduces the risk of HPV infection and associated health problems. It should be done before the first sexual contact, and between the ages of 9 and 26 years old. Vaccination cannot cure an actual HPV infection Sometimes your doctor might still recommend having a vaccination after treatment of HPV related diseases.
10. How do you protect yourself from getting HPV? Get vaccinated before your first sexual contact, avoid sexual contact if warts are visible, use a condom and live in a faithful relationship.
Authored by Dr. Miriam Klimek
Specialist Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Mediclinic Dubai Mall