How to prevent human papillomavirus infection

By Mercy James

Asmau, 40 (pseudonym) was diagnosed with cervical cancer a few months ago. Her doctors told her that infection with the human papillomavirus puts people at risk for cervical cancer.

They said the disease could have been prevented if she had taken a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine and other preventative measures.

Human papillomavirus infection (HPV infection) is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), a DNA virus from the family Papilloma viridae, according to GP Dr Raymond Lawal, a GP.

He said about 90% of HPV infections cause no symptoms and clear up on their own within two years. However, in some cases, an HPV infection persists and results in either warts or precancerous lesions.

According to him, these lesions, depending on the site affected, increase the risk of cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, anus, mouth or throat.

He said: “Almost all cervical cancers are caused by HPV. Two strains – HPV16 and HPV18 – account for 70% of cases. HPV6 and HPV11 are common causes of genital warts and laryngeal papillomatosis.

“There are over 100 varieties of HPV, of which over 40 are transmitted through sexual contact and can affect your genitals, mouth or throat.”

Citing data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), he said HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). It’s so common that most sexually active people will have some variety of it at some point, even if they have few sexual partners, he said.

Dr. Musa said the virus that causes HPV infection is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. Most people acquire genital HPV infection through direct sexual contact, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Since HPV is a skin infection, you don’t have to have sex for transmission to occur.

He said: “A lot of people have HPV and don’t even know it, which means you can still get it even if your partner has no symptoms. It is also possible to have more than one type of HPV.

“In rare cases, a mother with HPV can transmit the virus to her baby during childbirth. When this happens, the child may develop a condition called relapsing respiratory papillomatosis where they develop HPV-related warts in their throat or airways.

Other factors that can put a person at increased risk for HPV infection include:

Increase in the number of sexual partners

unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex

A weakened immune system

Having a sexual partner who has HPV

The expert said that if you get a high-risk type of HPV, certain factors can increase the likelihood that the infection will continue and could turn into cancer. These factors include:

A weakened immune system

Have other STIs, such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, and herpes simplex

chronic inflammation

Having many children (cervical cancer)

Prolonged use of oral contraceptives (cervical cancer)

Consuming tobacco products (cancer of the mouth or throat)

Receiving anal sex (anal cancer)

Dr. Musa said that in most cases (9 out of 10) HPV goes away on its own within two years without any health problems. However, since the virus is still in a person’s body during this time, that person can transmit HPV unknowingly.

“When the virus does not go away on its own, it can cause serious health problems. These include genital warts and throat warts (known as relapsing respiratory papillomatosis), cervical cancer and other cancers of the genitals, head, neck and throat. throat.

“The types of HPV that cause warts are different from the types that cause cancer. So, having genital warts caused by HPV does not mean you will develop cancer.

“Cancers caused by HPV often have no symptoms until the cancer is in an advanced stage of growth. Regular screenings can help diagnose HPV-related health problems earlier. It can improve outlook and increase chances of survival.

“Cancer often takes years or even decades to develop after a person has contracted HPV,” he said.

Dr. Musa said prevention is always better than treatment, adding that other HPV-related cancers are also easier to treat when detected and treated early.

According to him, the easiest ways to prevent HPV are to use condoms and have safer sex.

Additionally, he said the Gardasil 9 vaccine is available for the prevention of genital warts and cancers caused by HPV.

The vaccine could protect against nine types of HPV known to be associated with cancer or genital warts.

The CDC recommends the HPV vaccine for boys and girls aged 11 or 12. Two doses of the vaccine are given at least six months apart.

Women and men aged 15 to 26 can also be vaccinated on a three-dose schedule.

Dr. Musa said that to prevent health problems associated with HPV, it is important to have regular health exams, screenings and Pap smears.

He said people can do the following things to reduce their risk of getting HPV:

· Get ​​vaccinated. The HPV vaccine is safe and effective. It may protect against diseases (including cancers) caused by HPV when given in the recommended age ranges.

“Vaccination is not recommended for people over the age of 26. However, some adults, ages 27 to 45, who are not yet vaccinated may decide to get the HPV vaccine after talking with their professional their health about their risk of new HPV infections and the possible benefits of vaccination.

“HPV vaccination in this age group offers less benefit. Most sexually active adults have already been exposed to HPV, but not necessarily to all of the HPV types targeted by vaccination,” Dr. Musa said.

· Get ​​screened for cervical cancer. Routine screening in women aged 21 to 65 can prevent cervical cancer.

If you are sexually active:

· Use condoms the right way every time you have sex. This can reduce your chances of getting HPV. But HPV can infect areas that the condom does not cover. Thus, condoms may not fully protect against HPV; and

· Be in a mutually monogamous relationship – or only have sex with someone who only has sex with you.

At any age, having a new sexual partner is a risk factor for getting a new HPV infection. People who are already in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship are not likely to get a new HPV infection.

Dr. Musa said there is currently no test to determine a person’s HPV status.

“Additionally, there are no approved HPV tests to detect HPV in the mouth or throat. There are HPV tests that can screen for cervical cancer. Health care providers only use these tests to screen women aged 30 and older.

HPV testing is not recommended for screening men, teenagers, or women under 30.

He said most people with HPV don’t know they are infected. They never develop any symptoms or health issues because of it.

However, he added that some people find out they have HPV when they have genital warts.

“Women can find out they have HPV when they get an abnormal Pap test result (during cervical cancer screening).

“Others may not find out until they develop more serious HPV-related problems, such as cancers,” he said.

There is currently no treatment for the virus itself. However, there are treatments for the health problems that HPV can cause.

Dr Musa said: “Most cases of HPV go away on their own, so there is no treatment for the infection itself. Instead, your doctor will likely want you to come back for repeat testing in a year to see if the HPV infection persists and if any cellular changes have developed that require further follow-up.

“Genital warts can be treated with prescription medication, burning with an electric current, or freezing with liquid nitrogen. But getting rid of physical warts does not treat the virus itself, and the warts can come back. If left untreated, genital warts may disappear, stay the same, or grow in size or number.

“Precancerous cells can be surgically removed. Cancers that develop from HPV can be treated with methods such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or surgery. Sometimes more than one method can be used.

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