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  • Dr. Gina Simone

Cervical Health: The ABCs of HPV - Part 2

Updated: May 19, 2020

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, and because there is so much to talk about, we decided to make this our C.H.A.M. series.

You’ve heard it from your doctor, you’ve heard it on TV, and you’ve even heard it from celebrities. Would you like to know the facts? Millions of people will be exposed to, or diagnosed with, HPV by the end of this year. HPV is such a common condition. Here are 10 things you should know to help you understand it better:

  1. HPV is a virus: HPV stands for human papilloma virus. There are 150 types of the virus, however about 40 types, both low and high risk, can cause conditions that affect the genital area.

  2. HPV is an STI: You can get HPV through having sex with an infected person, which makes it a sexually transmitted infection or STI.

  3. HPV can cause cancers: There are HPV types that are low or high risk for cancer. Each type is identified with a number. Specific numbers are associated with different types of HPV and are indicators for certain cancers

  4. HPV can disappear: Like most viruses, HPV may run its course. In a person with a healthy immune system, and absent of other risk factors, this virus can suddenly disappear. However, it is important to get routine screenings to make sure.

  5. HPV has a vaccine: Because so many people are infected by HPV in the United States, there are vaccines that have been developed to prevent HPV infections. The most common vaccines can provide protection from the low risk HPV types that cause warts along with the most common high risk HPV types that could lead to cervical cancer. The vaccine is administered in a three shot series over a six month period.

  6. HPV can be avoided: Getting vaccinated may decrease your chances in getting it from an infected person. In addition, using latex condoms during sexual activity can decrease your chances of getting HPV.

  7. HPV has complications: Additional complications of an HPV infection include genital warts and precancerous lesions. These can be treated with some medical and surgical therapy.

  8. HPV is very common: According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), almost 80 million people are currently infected with HPV. In addition, around 14 million people become infected every year with the virus.

  9. HPV can be screened: A complete history helps determine the risk you have of exposure to the virus along with a physical examination to evaluate for signs of disease associated with HPV infections. Also, PAP smears and HPV testing are approved screening tools for cervical cancer.

  10. HPV does not have symptoms: If you are positive with the HPV infection, you may not have any symptoms at all. Some diseases associated with HPV, like cervical cancer, may not cause any symptoms until it is in a later stage. For this reason, it is important to get the right screening test when recommended.

The first step towards better health is knowledge. When you know better, you do better. Make sure to schedule your appointment for recommended screening test today.

- teachingdoctor

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