Tackling The Hpv And Genital Warts Challenge

October 28, 2009 by admin 

You can catch genital Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) through being sexually active with an infected person.

It is the most common sexually transmitted disease and can cause Genital Warts to develop in both men and women.

There are over 40 types of HPV which can affect the skin and mucous membranes around the genital area. Infection is possible in the cervix, anus and rectum, on the penis and in the lining of the vagina.

Statistics show, for example, that in the USA over 20 million people are infected with genital HPV, and over half of sexually active people are at some time likely be infected.

It is also significant that it can be passed by skin to skin contact of the genital area and so does not necessarily require penetrative sex for infection.

Of significant concern is that sometimes genital HPV shows no symptoms which means an infected person may not even realise they have a problem.

 This can have very serious consequences for someone who has the higher risk type HPV because they can develop into cervical and other cancers.

What are the symptoms of infection?

A person infected with lower risk Human Papilloma Virus may develop Genital Warts around the groin, scrotum or penis in men or around or in the vagina, on the cervix or vulva in women.

The majority of these warts are caused by two types of HPV, types 6 and 11.

Sometimes a genital wart may be a small bump and can be either raised or simply flat, pink in colour and cauliflower shaped, and if you have sexual contact with an infected person the warts could develop from as little as a few weeks, a month or sometimes up to a number of years later.

Occasionally Genital Warts can cause bleeding from the urethra, a tube which carries urine, or the anus.

What should you do if you think you may be infected by HPV and have genital warts?

You should remember that while this type of HPV does not cause cancer, you do need to seek professional guidance from your medical practitioner. Either they can arrange for a practice nurse to examine you or refer you to a sexual health clinic.

Even if you or your partner can feel or see the warts, you need a doctor or nurse to carry out a thorough examination, when they will use a magnifying lens and possibly an internal examination of the vagina or anus to make a proper diagnosis.

So how does HPV cause genital warts to develop?

 What seems to happen is that the virus has an impact on normal, healthy cells through a mechanism that makes their growth abnormal. This may show up as genital warts or just remain unseen.

Over time your immune system may win the battle and defeat the virus. In some people where their immune system is weaker, they may not be able to remove the HPV and the genital warts may remain.

How can you prevent infection by HPV?

A growing number of government agencies have introduced vaccination programs which protect teenage girls from around 12 years of age.

There is further catch-up coverage for the 13-18 age group who may have missed the initial phases or did not get complete cover.

In addition to vaccination your next best option is to either avoid sexual activity altogether or limit yourself to sexual contact with one person in a long term committed relationship. And equally the key to reducing your risk profile for HPV-caused genital warts is to limit the number of sexual partners.

As well as vaccination, using condoms is an effective means towards reducing the risk of HPV infection and genital warts.

How to treat genital warts?

If the warts can be seen on examination you will likely be offered treatment to remove them. Successful treatment will depend on the strength of your immune system, and the size and type of wart.

Remember genital warts are not caused by bacteria but by a virus – the HPV – and so antibiotics will have no effect.

Your options include using a special cream applied to the infected area, a laser or heat treatment on the infected area, under local anaesthetic or freezing (cryotherapy).

Sometimes a combination of the above approaches may be used and you may feel some soreness for a few days after the treatment, but some pain killing drugs should help deal with this discomfort.

The best approach in these matters, however, is to see prevention of HPV and genital warts in the first place as a far better option than the need for a cure.


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