HPV – Human Papilloma Virus (Genital Warts)
HPV is the most common of all sexually transmitted diseases. In fact, most men and women are infected with HPV at some time in their lives. There are approximately 100 types of HPV. Some HPV types only infect the genital area and may cause warts, some cause mild changes in cervical cells that DO NOT turn into cancer, and some cause changes that may become cervical cancer.
The types of HPV that are found in the genital areas are usually passed on during sexual contact (sexually transmitted). HPV types that cause warts on the hands or feet do not cause genital warts or cervical cell changes, nor do genital HPV types generally spread outside the genital area.
It has been estimated that 75% or more of sexually active Americans will contract HPV sometime in their lives. This means that anyone who has ever had sexual relations has a high chance of being exposed to this virus, but only a small number of women infected with HPV develop cell changes that need to be treated. ‘
In almost all cases, the immune system will keep the virus (including the cancer-related HPV types) under control or get rid of it completely. However, if HPV infection does not go away over many years, there is a greater chance of developing cell changes that may lead to cervical cancer. Only very rarely does the presence of HPV lead to cervical cancer.
There is currently no treatment available for the virus itself. However, good treatments do exist for the diseases HPV can cause, such as cervical cell changes or genital warts. Ask your healthcare provider about these treatment options.