WHAT IS HPV?
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a viral infection that is passed between people through skin-to-skin contact. HPV is the most common (s. e xually) transmitted infection (STI). It is a different virus than HIV and HSV (herpes).
Anyone who is (s. e xually) active can get HPV, even if you have had (s.e.x) with only one person. You also can develop symptoms years after you have (s.e.x) with someone who is infected. This makes it hard to know when you first became infected.
SYMPTOMS & HEALTH PROBLEMS
Your body’s immune system may defeat an HPV infection before it creates warts. There are several types of warts, including:
- Genital warts.
Genital warts consist of fibrous overgrowths covered by a thickened, outer layer. They can appear around a man’s scrotum, anus, and penis, or a woman’s vulva, cervix, vagina, or anus.
- Common warts.
Common warts are small, grainy skin growths that occur most often on your fingers or hands. Rough to the touch, common warts also often feature a pattern of tiny black dots, which are small, clotted blood vessels.
- Plantar warts.
Plantar warts are small growths that usually appear on the heels or other weight-bearing areas of your feet. This pressure may also cause plantar warts to grow inward beneath a hard, thick layer of skin (callus).
- Flat warts.
Flat warts are smooth, flat-topped, flesh- or brownish-yellow-colored bumps the size of a pinhead. They’re commonly found on the face, back of the hands, or legs, and tend to appear in large numbers.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the USA, the warts associated with most HPV infections go away on their own without any signs or symptoms. But the virus is still in an infected person’s body. Consequently, the person might mistake that he is completely recovered from that infection. Therefore, he might inadvertently pass HPV to (s. e xually) partner.
Cervical cancer starts in the cells lining the cervix – the lower part of the uterus (womb). This is sometimes called the uterine cervix. The fetus grows in the body of the uterus (the upper part). The cervix connects the body of the uterus to the vagina (birth canal).
Keep in mind that being vaccinated against HPV infection can protect you from cervical cancer. For those who aren’t vaccinated, most cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV strains that usually don’t cause warts, so women often don’t realize they’ve been infected. Early stages of cervical cancer typically cause no signs or symptoms.
However, time elapses, repeated infection of certain HPV strains may lead to precancerous lesions. If not treated, these lesions can become cancerous. Therefore, remember to have regular tests, which can detect precancerous changes in the cervix that might lead to cancer.