All About Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

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Update Date 09/07/2020 . 4 mins read
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HPV Causes and Risk Factors

HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer in women worldwide. So learning all about Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is important for women to maintain overall sexual health.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared HPV infection as the most common sexually transmitted disease.

It is a viral infection that is passed on through direct contact. Most types of HPV are transferred through sexual contact, which in turn can affect a person’s genitals, mouth and throat. 

All sexually-active people are at a high risk of getting a variety of the disease at some point, regardless of the number of sexual partners they’ve had. 

But it’s important to note that the CDC states that more than 90 %of HPV infections go away on their own within two years. 

All About Human Papillomavirus: How Do You Get HPV?

According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health there are a number of ways a person may get HPV:

  • Vaginal, oral, or anal sex: HPV can be spread even if there are no symptoms. This means your partner may not know they have HPV and pass on the infection to you. 
  • Genital touching: A man does not need to ejaculate for HPV to spread. HPV can also be passed between women who have sex with women. 
  • In childbirth from a woman to her baby: In some cases, HPV can infect a baby during childbirth.
  • Rarely, autoinoculation may occur from scratching the infected anogenital area.
  • HPV Infection via fomites–inanimate objects that serve as vectors–have been reported

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Signs and Symptoms

HPV does not cause noticeable symptoms or health problems to those who contract it. 

The HPV strains that do not go away on their own can cause serious health problems such as genital warts, warts in the throat, and cancer in the cervix, genitalia, head, neck and throat. 

 Regular screenings for earlier diagnosis and treatment.

For women, it is recommended to get a regular Pap test, which can find changes in the cervix caused by an HPV infection..

What You Need To Know About Genital Warts

Most men who have HPV do not experience any symptoms or realize they are infected. But some may develop genital warts or lesions.

Men are advised to see a doctor if they notice any unusual bumps or lesions on their penis, scrotum, or anus. Some HPV strains can cause penile, anal, and throat cancer in men. 

Some men may be more at risk for developing HPV-related cancers, including men who receive anal sex and men with a weakened immune system.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Prevention

Learning all about Human Papillomavirus is they key to preventing it. There are two known ways to prevent HPV. The first way is to get an HPV vaccine.

HPV Vaccination

The CDC recommends the HPV vaccine for boys and girls as early as age 9 years old, but generally given between 11 to 12 years old. Vaccination is done in two doses, at least six months apart. Women and men who are 15- to 26 years-old can also get vaccinated on a three-dose schedule. 

Safe Sexual Practices

The second way to prevent HPV is to avoid any kind of sexual contact. For the sexually active, protect yourself through some of these methods:

  • Use condoms or dental dams.Condoms are the best way to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STI). Because research shows that condom use is linked to lower cervical cancer rates. The HPV vaccine does not replace or decrease the need to wear condoms. So make sure to put the condom on before the penis touches the vagina, mouth, or anus. 
  • Get tested. Be sure you and your partner get tested for STIs. 
  • Be monogamous. Having sex with just one partner can lower your risk for STIs. After being tested for STIs, be faithful to each other. That means that you have sex only with each other and no one else. Your risk of getting STIs goes up with the number of partners you have.

All About Human Papillomavirus (HPV) in the Philippines

According to the Department of Health (DOH), more than 7,000 new cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed every year, and 99 percent of cervical cancer cases are caused by an HPV infection. 

A study on HPV and other cancers in 2018 conducted by the HPV Centre states that cervical cancer is the second most frequent cancer in women in the Philippines with 4,088 deaths in a year.

The study said that about 2.9% of women in the general population are estimated to harbor cervical HPV-16/18 infection at any given time. 58.6% of invasive cervical cancers are attributed to HPV-16 or 18.

HPV and Cervical Cancer: What’s the connection?

Why are there many cases of Cervical Cancer in the Philippines?

The reason for high prevalence of cervical cancer in the Philippines is due to misconceptions about the disease. These false beliefs lead to many Filipino women foregoing regular Pap smears and the HPV vaccine.

HPV vaccination is a part of the DOH’s national immunization program, and it recommends that children as young as 10 years old get vaccinated against HPV.  

On August 13, 2013, the DOH issued Department Memorandum 2013-0291:  Guidelines on the Implementation of Human Papillomavirus in Selected Schools. The DOH’s objective is to introduce the HPV vaccine using a school-based approach. The guidelines cover female students aged 10 to 14 years old in selected schools.

The DOH noted that the approach will help the government in meeting the Millennium Development Goals of reducing poverty, improving education and gender equity, which are impacted by cervical cancer. 

During the 8th HPV Summit on May 30, 2019 in Manila, Dr. Clarito Cairo, cancer manager for the DOH, stated that the aim is for the Philippines to be cervical cancer-free by 2040.

Cairo said that early detection is key in achieving this goal, with the DOH planning to introduce screening and treatments during health visits and the expansion of the HPV vaccination. 

Key Takeaways

HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer in women. And so to prevent cervical cancer, HPV prevention is a must.

How can this be achieved? Through early screening and detection, HPV vaccination, safe sexual practices, and engaging in intercourse with a mutually monogamous partner.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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