This week we will discuss about Human Papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). HPV is a different virus than HIV and HSV (herpes). There are many different types of HPV. Some types can cause health problems including genital warts and cancers. But there are vaccines that can stop these health problems from happening.
In most cases, your body's immune system defeats an HPV infection before it creates warts. When warts do appear, they vary in appearance depending on which kind of HPV is involved:
Genital warts. These appear as flat lesions, small cauliflower-like bumps or tiny stemlike protrusions. In women, genital warts appear mostly on the vulva but can also occur near the anus, on the cervix or in the vagina.
In men, genital warts appear on the penis and scrotum or around the anus. Genital warts rarely cause discomfort or pain, though they may itch or feel tender.
Common warts. Rough, raised bumps most commonly found on the hands, fingers, and elbows.
Plantar warts . Described as hard, grainy growths on the feet; they most commonly appear on the heels or balls of the feet.
Flat warts. Generally affect children, adolescents, and young adults; they appear as flat-topped, slightly raised lesions that are darker than normal skin color and are most commonly found on the face, neck, or areas that have been scratched.
Some factors increase the risk of contracting the HPV virus :
Many people have HPV (human papillomavirus), and the infection often clears up on its own, without treatment. And it often doesn’t make people sick. There is currently no treatment for HPV.
In most cases the immune system clears HPV from the body naturally over time and has no long-lasting effects.
Most people with HPV have no symptoms and will never know they have it. For women, having regular Cervical Screening Tests once they become sexually active is the only way to detect HPV.
Genital warts can be treated by doctors or at sexual health clinics.
It is hard to prevent common warts. If a wart is present, people should avoid picking it or biting finger nails. For plantar warts, it is recommended that shoes or sandals be worn in public areas such as pools and locker rooms.
The HPV vaccine helps protect you against certain types of HPV that can lead to cancer or genital warts. Also known by the brand name Gardasil 9, the HPV vaccine protects against:
The HPV vaccine is given in a series of shots. For people ages 15-45, the HPV vaccine is 3 separate shots. The second shot is given 2 months after the first, and the third shot is given 4 months after the second shot. So, in all, it takes about 6 months to get all 3 shots.
For people ages 9-14, you only need to get 2 shots. The second shot is given 6 months after the first shot.