Human Papillomavirus (HPV) 101
By: Rose Lauren R. Mariano
One of the silent viruses that are very prevalent in many people today is the Human Papillomavirus or more commonly known by its acronym, HPV. It is more serious than people may think, for according to the report last 2001 of World Health Organization, about 630 people in the world are infected by this virus. But though the numbers are alarming and increasing by the year, the reality is there is not enough information available for the people. So let’s give a background on this virus, for us to raise awareness and hopefully, protect ourselves as well.
What is HPV?
Contrary to popular belief, the Human Papillomavirus not only affects women, but men as well. It is shocking to know that more than 100 different types of HPV exist! Imagine that right? Most often, the warts that grow in our hands and feet are caused by a certain type of this virus. It is scary to think that most types of HPV do not have any signs or symptoms, but we could breathe a sigh of relief that some go away naturally.
What is Genital HPV?
Among the 100 types of HPV, about 30 of them are classified as genital HPV. Naturally, from its name, these develop in the genital area of males and females. According to doctors, “some types cause cells in the lining of the cervix to change.” One needs to be extra cautious of these viruses, for if not treated, these abnormal cells can sometimes turn into cancer cells. Other types of HPV manifests through genital warts and many types of HPV can cause abnormal Pap tests.
But how do people get genital HPV? The most common way of having this is through sexual activity, especially if there is intercourse, though there is still a possibility of getting the virus even without genital contact. The most alarming thing about HPV is that many people do not know they transmit the virus, since it sometimes does not manifest any symptoms.
Remember that HPV is highly contagious, so we must learn how to protect ourselves especially if we are sexually active!
Prevention and Protection!
One sure way to help in the prevention of genital HPV is to abstain from all sexual activity. But if a person cannot commit to this, using contraceptives particularly the condom may help reduce the risk of a person to contract the virus. However, there is no guarantee that condoms can totally protect the individual, since other areas of the genital areas are exposed.
So now you must be thinking that if HPV does not have signs, how does one know that they have the said virus? For women, one way of finding out is through the Pap smear test, for it will help detect abnormal cells in the lining of the cervix. It is very important for women to have the Pap test once they are sexually active, for if they do have the said abnormal cervical cells, doctors could test and treat them before they turn into cancer, especially if detected early. Another way is through the HPV DNA test, which also detect certain types of HPV.
Hopefully all of you, young or old, was able to learn something from this for the virus does not choose age nor gender, so we must all know how to protect ourselves from this silent but deadly virus.
For more information about HPV and cervical cancer, feel free to visit the “ONE LESS” portion of Club K!