The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common
sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the world. So much so, that the vast majority of sexually active men and women will contract it at some point during their lives. Most times the virus does not cause lasting health problems, but certain strains of the virus can cause genital warts or cancer so it is important to know the facts
and get regular check-ups and pap smears to detect any abnormal developments.
How common is HPV?
More than half of all sexually active people will contract some form of HPV at some point, but many won’t even know it. The CDC estimates over 79 million
sexually active Americans are infected with HPV, with approximately 14 million new infections annually.
Is There Just One Type of HPV?
No. There are actually over 100 strains of HPV, 40 of which can infect the genital areas of both genders. Most strains are relatively harmless and will pass through the system without causing any noticeable symptoms, but at least 13 types
of HPV can lead to cancer. A few strains can also lead to genital warts.
How Does HPV Turn into Cancer?
Certain high-risk types of HPV can linger, creating abnormal cells in the infected area that can lead to cancer. The longer certain strains of HPV virus stay in a person’s body, the more likely their chances of developing such types of cancer as anal, oropharynx, penis or cervical.
How is HPV and HPV-related Cancer Detected?
There is no particular test to tell if you have HPV, however there are tests to detect certain high-risk strains if abnormalities are detected. If you get regular pap smears, your tests will usually reveal abnormal HPV cells before they turn cancerous, so it is vital to get yearly pep smears if you are a sexually active woman. This is especially important since abnormal cells or cervical cancer likely won’t produce any warning signs.
Keep an eye out for Part 2 of our answers to frequently asked HPV questions next! Thanks for visiting EMC