What is HPV Infection?

Genital Warts, also called Venereal Warts, are flesh or gray bumps that grow around the genital and anal areas in men and women. These are the most common type of sexually transmitted diseases and can be acquired through the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).

HPV Infection, which is prevalent between 17 and 33 years old, is highly contagious. If you have even one sexual contact with an infected person, you have 60 percent risk of getting the infection yourself.

Children can also get genital warts from nonsexual method such as direct manual contact with another person with HPV infection. However, it can also be indicative of child abuse and should be addressed to the child's doctor immediately.

Causes
The main cause of genital warts is the human papilloma virus. There are more than one hundred types of HPVs that have been identified. About 40 of these can cause HPV infection.

- Low Risk HPV
Almost 90 percent of the genital warts are caused by two specific kinds of the HPV, which are the HPV-6 and HPV-11. These are low-risk viruses.

- High Risk HPV
The high risk types are higher risk. HPV-16 is responsible 50 percent of cervical cancers. Other high-risk viruses are 16, 18, 31, and 45.

These viruses can penetrate the skin through the microscopic cuts in the genital area that often occur during sexual activity. When the cells become invaded by HPV, they remain inactive for some months or even up to a few years. This is known as the latency period. During this time, there is no sign of infection. However, a large number of people who have sexual intercourse with infected partners can develop genital warts in as little as three months.

Symptoms
Genital warts don't bring pain to the patient but they can cause discomfort due to the size and itchiness. The size of the wart typically measures less than one millimeter to one centimeter. In men, the warts usually grow in the urethra, penis, rectum and scrotum. In women, these occur in the moist areas of the vagina such as the labia minora and vaginal opening.

Another common complaint of people with HPV infection is discharge. It rarely happens that a person would have bleeding or urinary obstruction but this occur if the wart develops in the urethral opening.

Medical Treatment
Although there is no single effective method of treatment for removing these warts, a person with HPV infection can opt to make use of several treatments.

One option is cryotherapy, which freezes the wart with the use of liquid nitrogen called cryopobe. Effectiveness rate is high and side effects are few with this treatment.

Other methods of treatment are:
- laser treatment, wherein laser destroys the lesion
- electrodesiccation, use of electric current to destroy the warts

Prevention
Fortunately, HPV infection can now be prevented with an HPV vaccine. It is recommended for men and women aged 9 to 26 years old. It is a safe and effective way of preventing infection with HPV-6, -11, -16 and -18, which are the four most common types of HPV.

Another way to prevent this infection is to avoid having multiple partners and to use condoms during sexual activity.

 


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