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Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection. It lives in the body’s epithelial cells. These are flat and thin cells found on the skin’s surface and also on the surface of the vagina, anus, vulva, cervix, penis head, mouth, and throat.

Transmission

How common

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV. About 14 million people become newly infected each year.

In Africa, there are about 24.9% of women in the general population are estimated to harbor cervical HPV infection. In Asia there are about 313,000 cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed each year, with 160.000 women in the general population dying from the HPV disease. In Europe there are 73.3% of invasive cervical cancer are attributed to HPV 16 and 18 and about 6.6% of women in general population are estimated to harbor cervical HPV infection.

Chances of being infected

If one person in a heterosexual couple has human papillomavirus (HPV), there’s a 20 percent chance his or her partner will pick up the virus within six months.

How to detect if someone has it

HPV virus - Detect female

WhHPV virus - Detect maleether symptoms occur or not can depend on the type of HPV virus involved in the infection. Some HPV types are associated with genital warts, although the warts are not always visible.  If genital warts show up, it’s an indication of HPV infection.

 

Genital warts take on many different appearances. They can be raised, flat, pink, or flesh-colored. They can even be shaped like cauliflower. Sometimes there is a single wart; other times multiple warts appear. They can be small or large. They can be on the anus, cervix, scrotum, groin, thigh, or penis.

Prevention

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved three vaccines to prevent HPV infection: Gardasil®, Gardasil® 9, and Cervarix®. In the trials that led to approval of Gardasil and Cervarix, these vaccines were found to provide nearly 100 percent protection against persistent cervical infections with HPV types 16 and 18 and the cervical cell changes that these persistent infections can cause. The three vaccines prevent infections with HPV types 16 and 18, two high-risk HPVs that cause about 70 percent of cervical cancers and an even higher percentage of some of the other HPV-associated cancers. All three vaccines are given through a series of three injections into muscle tissue over a 6-month period.

  • Gardasil

Gardasil is a vaccine used to prevent anal, cervical, vulvar, and vaginal cancer caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) types 16 and 18 and genital warts caused by HPV types 6 and 11. Gardasil is approved for use in males and females aged 9 to 26 years. It is a type of quadrivalent vaccine (a vaccine that works against four different viruses or other microorganisms). This vaccine is also called recombinant human papillomavirus quadrivalent vaccine.

  • Gardasil 9

A vaccine used to prevent anal, cervical, vulvar, and vaginal cancer caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) types 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58 and genital warts caused by HPV types 6 and 11. Gardasil 9 is approved for use in males aged 9 to 15 years and females aged 9 to 26 years. It is a type of nonavalent vaccine (a vaccine that works against nine different viruses or other microorganisms). This vaccine is also called recombinant human papillomavirus nonavalent vaccine. Gardasil 9 is as effective as Gardasil for the prevention of diseases caused by the four shared HPV types (6, 11, 16, and 18), based on similar antibody responses in participants in clinical studies. The trials that led to approval of Gardasil 9 found it to be 97 percent effective in preventing cervical, vulvar, and vaginal disease caused by the five additional HPV types (31, 33, 45, 52, and 58) that it targets.

  • Cervarix®.

A vaccine used to prevent cervical cancer caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) types 16 and 18. Cervarix is approved for use in females aged 9 to 25 years. It is a type of bivalent vaccine (a vaccine that works against two different viruses or other microorganisms). This vaccine is also called recombinant human papillomavirus bivalent vaccine.

 

Please note the three vaccines provide strong protection against new HPV infections, but they are not effective at treating established HPV infections or disease caused by HPV

 

For routine vaccination, HPV vaccine is given as a 3-dose series

  • 1st Dose – Now
  • 2nd Dose – 1 to 2 months after Dose 1
  • 3rd Dose – 6 months after Dose 1

Catch-up vaccination

This vaccine is recommended for the following people who have not completed the 3-dose series:

  • Females 13 through 26 years of age.
  • Males 13 through 21 years of age.

The vaccines may be given to:

Vaccination is not recommended for:

  • Males and females over 26 years of age as there is no evidence indicating such vaccinations are effective.
  • Those who have had a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to a previous HPV vaccine, yeast or any other vaccine components.
  • Pregnant women

Condom effectiveness

Use of male condoms appears to reduce the risk of HPV transmission from men to women. A study conducted by Guttmacher suggested that women’s likelihood of acquiring an HPV infection decreased significantly as the frequency of condom use increased. Women whose partners used condom for 50–99% of the time had a 50% lower risk of infection and women whose partners used them 100% of the time had a 70% lower risk.

 

As for men, a study led by Carrie M. Nielson of Oregon Health and Science University in Portland suggested that consistent condom use might reduce the risk of men being infected to 38%.Consistent condom users were also less likely to have cancer-related HPV strains: just fewer than 17 percent tested positive for a cancer-related viral strain, compared with 36 percent of men who never used condoms.

 

Important note, condoms cannot fully protect you against HPV infection as it can be passed by touching infected areas not covered by a condom. These areas may include skin in the genital or anal areas. Also, many people don’t realize they’re infected with HPV and may have no symptoms, so neither sexual partner may realize that the virus is being spread.

Treatment

There is no treatment for the virus itself. However, there are treatments for the health problems that HPV can cause, for example genital warts. Medications to eliminate warts are typically applied directly to the lesion and usually take many applications before they are successful.

Here are some methods:

  • Salicylic acid

You can try Over-the-Counter treatments that contain salicylic acid to remove layers of a wart a little bit at a time. Salicylic acid is for use on common warts. Please note it can cause skin irritation and isn’t for use on your face.

  • Imiquimod cream (Aldara, Zyclara)

This prescription cream may enhance your immune system’s ability to fight HPV. Common side effects of imiquimod include redness and swelling at the application site.

  • Podofilox (Condylox)

Another type of topical prescription, podofilox works by destroying genital wart tissue. Podofilox may cause pain and itching where it’s applied.

  • Trichloroacetic acid

This prescription chemical treatment burns off genital warts and may cause local irritation.

 

If medications don’t work, your doctor may suggest one of the following procedures, which physically remove warts by:

  • Freezing with liquid nitrogen (cryotherapy)
  • Burning with an electrical current (electro cautery)
  • Surgical removal
  • Laser surgery

Best sources for more information

The risk chart is the heart of this guide, and it can be found here

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