What Is HPV?
Human Papillomavirus or as it is commonly called “HPV”. HPV is a sexually transmitted infection that affects almost all sexually active individuals. As a matter of fact, almost everyone who indulges in any form of sexual activity can contract the virus. This is because HPV infection has become very common among men and women today. The chances of getting passed on are quite high.
However, the virus is harmless for a lot of people, they can exist without symptoms and eventually go away. For others, the virus persists and most times lead to health complications. Harmful HPV viruses are grouped as either low-risk or high-risk HPV.
We will discuss the details of these HPV infections in the later sections of this article. You should note that a good percentage of HPV goes away on its own. While in some individuals, it persists. Let us take a look at how HPV differs from other STD’s.
Is HPV Infection Different From Other Sexually Transmitted Diseases Like HIV and Herpes?
Yes, it is!! Oftentimes HPV infections may be confused as other sexually transmitted disease like herpes or even HIV. HPV may co-exist with other sexually transmitted diseases or infections in the body. “It is not the same as other STDs” so do not let anyone tell you otherwise.
HPV either exist on its own or co-exist with other infections. On its own, genital HPV is not a disease, and it affects 80% of persons over the age of 50. Most infections go away or are suppressed without causing any health problems or symptoms in the body. HPV on its own has no treatment unless it is long-lasting and develops into an actual disease that can be treated like cancer, abnormal cells, and warts.
When HPV co-exists with HIV or Herpes, The effects or symptoms can be exaggerated. HPV may only become deadly after it has developed into cancer, which may take years to discover. Individuals with HIV or Herpes are usually diagnosed easily and on time as a result of their symptoms, but in the case of HPV, it is very different.
People with HPV can carry the virus for months or even years without any symptoms or health threats. This may continue until the virus goes away on its own or it develops into warts or cancer. Most times, the virus is being suppressed by the body’s immune system. Research shows that after being infected with a particular HPV, you cannot be re-infected with that particular HPV again.
How Do you Know if you Have Been Infected with HPV? Are there any Symptoms?
HPV affects 90 percent sexually active individuals and most people do not even know they have been infected after months or years. Now, how do you know if you have been infected with the HPV? Well, it is not entirely impossible to know if you have HPV. One of the common ways of detecting HPV is when you begin to notice genital warts. Now HPV is grouped into low-risk or high-risk diseases. The low-risk HPV results in warts, which can be treated. However, the high-risk HPV results in cancer or cancerous growths, which is deadly.
All types of HPV can remain undetected for years before they begin to manifest symptoms. There are tests which can be done for both low-risk HPV and high-risk HPV, and yes, there are two separate tests done for each of them. On this note, it is important that you visit your physician regularly for proper tests and examination if you have any suspicion or you feel you have been at risk.
Are there any symptoms of HPV Infection?
Generally, since the virus remains undetected in the body, there are no known symptoms during this period. However, low-risk HPV leads to genital warts, so you will notice different kinds and shapes of warts in your genitals after a while. When HPV develops into cancer, symptoms starts appearing on the skin or in the body and little or nothing can be done in the case of high-risk HPV. Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers resulting from HPV which puts women at a higher risk. Some common signs of cervical cancer include unusual vaginal discharge, lower back pain, pain during sex and painful urination.
Can HPV Be Treated?
For starters, antibiotics cannot treat HPV infections. It is a good thing that most times the virus goes away or is being suppressed by the body’s immune system to a level where it cannot cause any health problems. However, if the HPV infection persists, there are treatments available for the abnormal cells that may have formed as a result.
HPV treatment for genital warts, for instance, include using creams, gels, lasers or other technologies. In the same vein, pre-cancerous cells can be removed surgically suing the LEEP or laser therapy. When the cancerous cells have become invasive, Chemotherapy or hysterectomy are usually needed.
However, you should note that no treatment is available for the infection itself and the most effective way of avoiding HPV complications is by early detection. If the abnormal cells are detected on time, they can be treated before they become cancerous. Since HPV remains in the body for a long time before these signs occur, it is very important for women from thirty years and above to have a regular examination and HPV test. This is because, even if the infection is less common at this age, chances are that they have been present in the body for a while and may soon begin to cause abnormal cells and eventual cancer. Now, early detection and treatment of these pre-cancerous cells will prevent it from developing into cancer.
Risk of HPV in Men and Women
Since HPV increases the risk of cervical cancer in women, a lot of people assume that the virus affects only women. Well, this is untrue and men are also at risk of suffering from persistent HPV infections. High-risk HPV in men can lead to penile, throat or other associated cancers. However, health problems associated with HPV are less common in men.
Men with increased risk of developing health problems are either uncircumcised men or men with weak immune systems. On this note, high –risk HPV leads to cancer for both men and women.
How You Can Protect Yourself from HPV and its Effects
HPV is a sexually transmitted infection and can be contracted through sexual activities by skin contact. While the use of condoms may offer complete protection for other forms of STDs or unwanted pregnancy, it is not effective in preventing HPV spread because it does not cover the entire genital area or skin. HPV can be contracted by having sexual intercourse (whether oral, anal or virginal) with anyone infected with the virus, even when the infected person has not developed symptoms.
So, how can you protect yourself from HPV?
- First of all, limit your number of sexual partners. This will go a long way to reduce your risk of contracting the virus and other STD’s.
- Always use condoms. Even though they do not offer complete protection against the HPV virus, they can significantly reduce the risk of contracting the virus in addition to protection against other sexually transmitted diseases.
- Abstain from smoking and other activities that may damage your body’s immune system. A weak immune system may not be able to suppress the virus as it should and this may lead to complications, sometimes even sooner.
Finally, visit your physician for regular examination, especially if you have been exposed to the infection. Remember that HPV is more likely to cause complications in the future if it persists in your body. However, most times the virus will go away on its own
What an HPV Test mean
Typically, a negative HPV test results mean you are risk-free for a couple of years, this is why the tests are recommended periodically. So if you are looking to find out, and are asking the question, ‘can HPV go away on its own’, the answer is yes, and as a matter of fact in most cases. But HPV still persists in some individuals and leads to health problems. It is not yet known why some people have lasting HPV and develop symptoms while others do not.
limiting sexual partners and consistently use condoms. This way, you can reduce your risk of contracting the virus. Now I am sure the answer to the question ‘Does hpHPVo away’ will be better understood with this article.