Human Papillomavirus, also known as HPV, is an infectious virus passed on through skin-to Skin contact. Some instances of human papillomavirus may not result in many health complications. But other types of HPV may cause the growth of cancerous tumours in the cervix, vagina, and anus. A strain of HPV causes these warts called the “human papillomavirus”. There are several different types of HPV, and they can be classified into two major groups: high-risk HPV and low-risk HPV.
Since HPV is considered highly contagious, it is vital to prevent any possibility of infection. This is why the United States Department of Health and Human Services recommended vaccines to prevent the infection. These vaccines, called the quadrivalent vaccines, include vaccines that prevent two of the main strains of HPV. They also contain additional vaccines to prevent the infection from being transmitted through anal sex, vaginal sex, and oral sex. Since the vaccines are vaccines, there are no risks of re-infestation after the protection period.
A recent study estimates that more than one million women in the United States alone are diagnosed with HPV every year. About twenty-five percent of these women have no symptoms, while about forty-five percent display at least one or more symptoms of HPV infection. HPV symptoms include wart-like growths on the genital area, irritation of the genitals, and inflammation in the mouth, throat, or penis. Some of the risk factors for HPV infection are sexual intercourse with an infected person, having multiple sex partners, having sex with someone whose history of sexually transmitted diseases is doubtful, and not using condoms during intercourse. These factors all increase the chances of having an HPV infection.
One way of preventing the risk factors for this disease is the administration of the HPV vaccine. FDA has recently approved the HPV vaccine for general use, and its efficacy is currently being assessed in clinical trials among persons aged 18 to 33 years. An analysis using data from a recent nationwide survey shows that the vaccination can be effectively prevented among persons who engage in oral sex with an infected partner. This finding is the first evidence that the HPV vaccine can indeed prevent the infection.
Having unprotected sex with multiple partners also increases the risk of acquiring the infection. Women who engage in frequent anal sex with a high-risk partner are also at high risk of contracting the infection. High-risk behaviours include:
- Anal sex.
- Having sex with an infected woman.
- Having sex in public places without protection.
- Engaging in sexual relations with someone who is not married or is sexually promiscuous.
Men also expose themselves to the risk of getting the infection from women in the high-risk group. Unprotected vaginal and anal sex is the most common means of introducing the Human Papillomavirus into a female partner’s body.
Many studies have been conducted to study the occurrence and spread of HPV infection through various types of sexual contact. Most of these studies have focused on how much the HPV infection rates vary according to different factors such as age, ethnicity, sexual activity, and neighbourhood. Based on the epidemiologic studies, the average annual incidence of HPV infection is about 0.35 percentage. This rate is higher for women than men. An important implication of the study’s findings is that the risk factors for HPV infection are present in the workplace and found in the neighbourhood. But since most sexually active people today have a regular job and some of them are jobless, they remain exposed to the risk factors for HPV infection even though they might not contract the infection.
Some studies show that the risk factor for genital warts infection is a greater risk factor for women than men. In addition, a recent study indicates that genital infections, including those caused by the human papillomavirus, are more common in girls than boys. On the other hand, the risk factors for cervical cancer are higher in young women than in young men, and the infection is also more prevalent among women than men.
HPV infection has been linked to the development of oropharyngeal cancers. These include the nasopharynx, pharynx, larynx, tonsils, epiglottis, and adenoids. These cancers are called oropharyngeal carcinomas. The development of these oropharyngeal cancers can affect any throat area, including the lips, larynx, pharynx, trachea, and bronchial tubes. The exception is the oropharyngeal, laryngeal carcinoma, which has been linked to HPV infection only in some cases. Studies indicate that the HPV infection does not spread from person to person in these cases.