The human papillomavirus is a virus that infects keratinocytes (cells on the outer skin) or mucous membranes of humans. There are over a hundred and twenty different varieties that have been identified.
It is estimated that HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. Although most of the most common varieties of HPV cause no symptoms in humans, some can create warts (including but not limited to genital warts) while others (in a small number of cases) may lead to cancers of the vulva, vagina, cervix, penis, oropharynx, and anus. Recent studies suggest that HPV may be associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, while HPV 16 and 18 infections are associated with increased risk of developing oropharyngeal (throat) cancer.
Causes and Risks
There are three ways that HPV can be transmitted.
First, genital HPV types can be transmitted from mother to child during birth. However, the occurrence of such transmissions is relatively rare, with about two cases per 100,000 children occurring in the United States.
Second, it is also theoretically possible to become infected by sharing contaminated objects. For instance, finger-genital contact would have the capacity to transmit the virus, although such transmission is also very rare.
The most common means of transmission is via sexual intercourse. There are at least forty HPV varieties that infect the genital tract. As Doctor Laura Egendorf shows in the book Sexually Transmitted Diseases, if a woman in college has at least one different partner per year for four years, the likelihood that she will leave college with an HPV infection is greater than 85%.
Not everyone suffering from HPV will experience the same symptoms. There are those who have HPV but experience no symptoms at all. The explanation below offers information on the most commonly reported symptoms experienced.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the body’s immune system will naturally clear away HPV within two years for 90% of the cases. The most common physical symptoms are skin and genital warts.
The skin warts have different names depending on their location and impact on the human body. They include:
- Common warts: occur on areas such as the hands, feet, elbows, and knees. In general they have a cauliflower-like surface and are raised from the skin.
- Plantar warts: found on the soles of the feet. These warts are difficult because they grow inward and create pain upon walking.
- Subungal/periungal warts: form under the fingernail (subungal) or around the finger and cuticle area (periungal). Because of their location, they can be more difficult to treat.
- Flat warts: most commonly found on the arms, face, and forehead. They frequently occur in children and teenagers.
Unlike genital warts, skin warts are not likely to spread from person to person.
Many different varieties of HPV can lead to genital warts. However, types 6 and 11 account for about 90% of all genital warts cases. It is important to remember that even if you or your partner is not displaying genital warts, the infection can still be transmitted.
Doctors believe there is no medical cure for HPV. Dherbs believes the body can heal itself, given the opportunity.
There are ways to protect your self from HPV, although they range in the degree of effectiveness. There are measures that can be taken to help prevent the transmission of the virus, but the only way to guarantee no exposure, and therefore no way to contract the virus, is through abstinence.
The male condom may also reduce the risk of HPV infections. It provides a lesser degree of protection when compared to other STDs because it can also be transmitted by exposure to infected skin and mucosal areas that are not protected by the condom. Female condoms are slightly more effective because they protect more of the skin. Some studies suggest that regular condom use limits the spread of HPV to other body parts on already-infected individuals.
In conclusion, be smart about sex. Get regular health exams, and make sure that your partner does too.
Dherbs Health Emporium, Inc. does not sell products that diagnose, palliate, treat, cure, or prevent disease. Our compounds and creations are solely for the purpose of helping to attain and maintain optimal health and well being. It is our belief that healing lies solely with God and the individual.