Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common condition that affects almost 80 percent of Americans during their lifetime. Even though it is not always dangerous, some people can develop HPV-related cancer. That’s why it is better to prevent the spread of HPV rather than treat its consequences. If you want to know more about this virus, check these six important facts about HPV you should be aware of.
1. HPV can be transmitted not only during sex
It is important to know that condoms tend to be the most effective protection from sexually transmitted infections. However, it can’t always protect you from HPV. The reality is that this virus can be spread through skin-to-skin contact. This means that the infected person can transmit the virus from the affected body parts that are not covered with a condom.
2. HPV has over 100 types
If you were diagnosed with HPV, there is no reason to panic beforehand. You should know that HPV has a lot of types and most of them are harmless. Some types of HPV can cause genital warts. These warts should be removed because they help spread the virus.
The most dangerous types of HPV are the 16th and 18th. These strains can cause cell changes that may lead to the development of cancer. There are a few more types of HPV (31, 33,45, 52, and 58) that can cause cancer but they are less common.
3. HPV can develop asymptomatically
Due to the fact that only a few strains of HPV can cause genital warts, you may even not know that you are infected with this virus. Many people can get infected and have no symptoms. The main problem is that they may even not know that they are infected and spread the virus to other people. That’s why regular Pap testing is essential.
4. HPV can disappear on its own
Many people have had HPV and still don’t know that they were infected. The reality is that HPV can disappear on its own. This process is called self-elimination. It means that the infected person didn’t undergo any treatment but the virus disappears.
You should also know that there is no cure for HPV. Available treatment options are aimed at reducing the consequences of the virus. That’s why you shouldn’t believe people who claim that they can cure HPV.
5. HPV can cause cancer
Unfortunately, some strains of HPV can lead to the development of cancer. But if you were diagnosed with the 16th and 18th types of HPV, it doesn’t mean that you will definitely get cancer. Both men and women can develop HPV-related cancer but men are less prone to it than women. Man can get anal and penile cancer while women can develop cervical, vulvar, and vaginal cancer.
Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers in women. The 16th and 18th strains of HPV tend to cause about 70 percent of cervical cancers. That’s why regular examination and testing of the cervical tissue are an essential part of cancer prevention.
6. HPV can be prevented
If you want to protect yourself from HPV, you can ask your doctor about the HPV vaccine. This vaccine is used to prevent infection with HPV and its consequences. People who were vaccinated are less prone to get cancerous types of HPV.
The HPV vaccine is recommended for all boys and girls at ages 11–12 but if you were not vaccinated, you can also get it before your 26. After the age of 26, the HPV vaccine is less beneficial since more people in their 30s and older have already been exposed to HPV.
The bottom line
Due to the fact that HPV is a widespread sexually transmitted disease that can cause serious complications, it is essential to prevent it in all available ways. If you can’t be vaccinated, don’t forget to use a condom during any king of sex and visit the doctor regularly. In the case of cancerous changes, it is much easier to treat the initial stages of this disease then cope with advanced cancer.