Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) has always been on the radar as a virus that affects girls and women, mainly because of its direct link to cervical cancer. But did you know that, contrary to popular belief, it affects men and women equally and is the most common STI in the world?
Genital warts – yip, that’s one type of HPV.
But there’s more.
About one hundred and ninety phenotypes of HPV exist – classed by how carcinogenic they can be. They can present as anything from benign genital warts through to recurrent respiratory papillomatosis, and 40 of the phenotypes can cause cancer of the throat, tonsils, base of the tongue, penis and anus.
HPV-related cancers, particularly in people with HIV, can be as fatal as AIDS.
Luckily, for most young individuals infected with HPV, the virus can go away on its own and be cleared within 2 years. However, if it does persist, it could be associated with pre- and cancerous lesions.
HOW DO YOU GET IT?
It is transmitted skin-to-skin and not only sexually.
Genital HPV has been detected in the fingertips!
8 out of 10 adults may come into contact with the virus in their lifetime.
Once an HPV virion invades a cell, an active infection occurs, and the virus can be transmitted.
Even though infections may have NO symptoms, the virus can still be transmitted.
It may take anywhere from 3 months, to years before lesions develop so you can never be sure from whom you got the infection, especially if a previous sexual partner has no symptoms.
Either way, once you know, it’s best to get hold of your most recent partners to suggest they get a check-up too.
HOW DO YOU TREAT IT?
Well, genital warts can be treated with prescription cream medication, cryotherapy, laser, and even removal with a scalpel.
If left untreated, they may go away, stay the same, or grow in size or number.
You should begin treatment as soon as possible and make sure you have a follow-up test to be sure it was successful.
Less than 10% of HPV infections persist.
If the strain of virus is carcinogenic, cancer could result, and you would be referred to an oncologist.
THERE IS A VACCINE
A quadrivalent vaccine that addresses genital warts and some cancers is indicated for boys and men 9 to 26 years of age.
Men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people are groups considered to be at risk, and the vaccine is recommended.
Unfortunately, Health4Men Clinics don’t offer the HPV vaccine at this time.
Why only up to 26 years of age?
It is assumed that by age 26, adults – especially sexually active adults – would have already been exposed to a number of HPV variations rendering the vaccine moot.
If you are older than this and considering getting the shot, you can contact HPVvaccine.firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Whether you get the vaccine shot or not, like for any STI, you can reduce your risk of catching HPV by practising safer sex. That means condoms and/or dental dams.
Dax Lambert is a contributing writer for Anova Health Institute. These are his views, which may or may not reflect those of Anova and its affiliates.