HPV comprises a group of viruses which at first affect the human skin. There are over 100 different types of this virus, and some of them cause common warts on the hands, feet and many other different areas on our skin. They are usually harmless, don’t give any symptoms and disappear on their own.
It should be mentioned that 40 types of this virus are described as genital HPV since they attack the genital area. This type of HPV is a serious risk factor for cervical pre-cancer and cancer. Moreover, they also increase the risk of genital warts and benign cervical changes.
Skin to skin contact is the most common way of transmitting this virus. Moreover, this virus is also transmitted through sexual activity with an infected person. However, it is not necessarily limited to sexual intercourse, because many people who are affected don’t show any signs or symptoms, so they easily transmit the virus without being aware of it.
Another important thing you should know is that a person can be affected with more than one type of HPV. Many health experts claim that a large number of people contract their first type of HPV infection within the first few years of becoming sexually active.
TEN FACTS ABOUT HPV YOU SHOULD KNOW SO YOU CAN STAY HEALTHY
- As we previously mentioned, HPV is spread through direct skin to skin contact and sexual intercourse is not necessary because any kind of sexual activity involving genital contact will lead to genital HPV infection.
- Most people are not even aware of the fact that they are affected by HPV since it doesn’t show any symptoms. However, the human body is able to fight this infection on its own, providing the immune system is at its best.
- Even though the majority of HPV types are not life-threatening, it is still very dangerous since they put you at a risk of cancer. The virus changes the cell structure of the cervix thus turning it into cervical cancer.
- According to many studies, women infected with high-risk HPV are more susceptible to developing cervical cancer in the next 10 – 20 years. This is why all women should have routine gynecologic exams.
- According to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition, women over 30 should do the Pap smear test on a regular basis as it can detect abnormal cells in the cervix, which may result in cervical cancer.
- Another important thing women should know is that the infections in those over 30 are less likely to be treated by the body’s immune response. This means that they should visit their gynecologists more often.
- The National Library of Medicine of the United States (US National Library of Medicine) states that if the virus is discovered in its early stage, cervical cancer can be 100% prevented.
- Both male and female condoms can reduce the risk of HPV transmission, but they cannot eliminate the risk of infection completely.
- HPV type 16 has been linked to some types of head and neck cancers.
- Recent research has linked nearly 30% of oral carcinomas to HPV infections.