Human papillomavirus (HPV)

What is human papillomavirus?

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus that infects the skin and mucous membranes in humans. There are over 100 different types, most of which are harmless, but some types are associated with an increased risk of cervical cancer or cervical dysplasia (abnormal changes in the cells on the surface of the cervix).

These are acquired through sexual contact with an infected partner and can be low or high risk. Low-risk can cause genital warts. In contrast, high-risk can cause cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina and anus in women; and cancer of the penis and anus in men.

What are the symptoms?

A person with HPV may not have any symptoms. In fact, most of those affected feel well despite the cellular changes caused by the virus. In the case of women, regular Pap smears can detect changes in the cervix that may eventually lead to cancer.

Causes of human papilloma or why it occurs

There are factors that increase the risk of HPV. These include having multiple sexual partners, as well as having sex with promiscuous partners.

Another risk factor is having a depressed immune system. Unprotected sex can also play a role in the infection of the virus, although the use of condoms does not protect 100%,

Can it be prevented?

It is possible to be vaccinated against the virus to prevent it. This vaccine protects women from infection with two types of the virus, which are responsible for 70% of cervical cancer cases.

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It is also possible to prevent it by abstaining from sexual games in which there is skin-to-skin contact. In the case of vaginal or anal intercourse, it is important to use condoms. Although they are not entirely effective, they greatly reduce the risk of human papillomavirus infection.

What is the treatment?

There is no cure for HPV. Treatment for cervical dysplasia that does not go away may involve surgery to remove the abnormal tissue.

What specialist treats it?

HPV should be treated by a specialist in Gynecology and Obstetrics if you are a woman or a Urologist specializing in Andrology if you are a man.