History of Human Papilloma Virus
What is HPV?
Human Papillomavirus, or HPV, is the most common sexually transmitted infection. HPV is a virus that affects almost everyone. Most people contract HPV in their life, although only a handful of these show symptoms, and most people's immune systems eventually overcome the virus. Different strains of HPV cause warts in different areas. There are approximately 2-30 types of HPV that cause genital warts.
Who is affected by HPV?
About 1-2% of the population has genital warts, but up to 90% of people contract the virus at some point in their life. HPV may remain for a person's whole life, but does not necessarily show symptoms. Women are at risk for cervical cancer if they have HPV because the virus can cause changes in the cells of the cervix. About 2-5% of women have abnormal Pap smear tests due to HPV.
What are the symptoms of HPV?
HPV does not usually show symptoms, but genital warts can be troublesome. Watch for these symptoms of genital warts:
- Raised bumps in the genital or anal area
- Bumps are sometimes itchy and are usually flesh colored
- Bleeding during or after sex
- Irregular bleeding between menstrual periods
- Persistent vaginal discharge without itching or burning
- Flat lesions, may be white, red, brown, or dark gray
How is HPV contracted?
- HPV is transmitted primarily through sexual contact of the genitals.
- It is possible but highly unlikely to contract HPV through oral sex.
- HPV is not normally transmitted by toilet seats, doorknobs, swimming pools, hot tubs, soaps, or towels.
- HPV is not present in the blood or other bodily fluids
How can I protect myself from HPV?
- Abstinence is the only way to be 100% safe from HPV
- Avoid having a lot of partners
- Know your partner well and discuss STIs before engaging in sexual contact
- Always use a condom. Condoms have been shown to be effective protection against HPV.
- If you are a female between the ages of 9 and 26, consider getting the Gardasil vaccine. This will protect you against four types of HPV that can cause cervical cancer. However, the vaccine will not cure existing HPV infections.
What should I do if I get HPV?
HPV will normally clear up on its own. There is no known cure for HPV. However, if you have genital warts, there are many treatments available. Topical treatments can be effective at removing warts but cause a burning sensation. Prescription drugs are also available, but may have negative side effects. Cauterization or freezing are also effective but painful methods of treatment. There are many natural treatments for HPV that have few or no side effects and cost less than pharmaceutical drugs.
Natural treatments for HPV:
- Apple Cider Vinegar poultice can help kill genital warts
- Western red cedar oil
- Natural herbal supplements that have been specially formulated to treat HPV.