Human Papilloma Virus

A Vaccine Preventable Disease

Identification and Definition

HPV is a DNA virus that stems from the papillomavirus family. Majority of HPV infections will show no signs or symptoms, which makes it a very dangerous virus. HPV is categorized as more than 150 viruses that cause different and diverse problems. These can vary from genital warts all the way to cancer. There are only HPV vaccines for the most common types.

Signs and Symptoms of HPV

The complicated part about this disease is that most people do not show symptoms. Majority of people don’t even know they’re infected for this exact reason. One of the main signs showing HPV is genital warts. (CDC) These need to be treated by a physician. Since symptoms are rare with HPV, getting a regular pap smear is a good way to know whether or not you have contracted the virus. Another sign of HPV is cervical cancer or possibly other specific cancers. The physician is able to detect cancerous cells during a pap smear.

Disease History of HPV

In the year of 1972, HPV was associated with skin cancer and proposed to the public in Poland. Six years later, Gereard Orth discovered a type of HPV (HPV-5) in skin cancer. In 1976, Harald Hausen created a theory that HPV plays a crucial role in the development of cervical cancer. This led to many people doing research, as this was a big deal. Researchers continued to find different strands of HPV in cervical cancer cells. As there are over 150 types of HPV, there are special cancers each can lead to. HPV is still to this day a concern, because not everyone gets vaccinated. It is a very important disease to get vaccinated for because it is extremely hard to tell when you have it or not due to not having symptoms.

Transmission of HPV

HPV is spread through what is called “intimate” skin-to-skin contact. You can contract this virus from someone through vaginal, oral, or anal sex. (CDC) You can get HPV very easily from anyone, even if you both have only had one sexual partner. It is such a common virus that almost everyone who is sexually active has had it or will get it. Sometimes symptoms don’t show up for years, which makes it extremely hard to date back to when you may have contracted it.

Complications of HPV

The major complication with this virus is the fact that there are little to no symptoms when you have the virus. People could go years without showing symptoms or treating the virus.

The more minor complications one may have with HPV is genital warts. This is not very minor, but compared to cancer, it is minor.

Almost all cases of cervical cancer are due to HPV. Only two HPV types are responsible for over 70 percent of cases. These are HPV-16 and HPV-18. Another complication that HPV can lead to is anal cancer. HPV can also cause throat cancer or cancer of the soft palate due to contraction through oral sex.

33,000 new cases of cancer are found each year in the same spot HPV is found in the body.

Recommended Control Measures for HPV

There are two vaccines available to prevent the human papilloma virus. These vaccines are called Gardasil and Cervarix. These vaccines prevent most types of cervical cancer and prevents the strand of HPV that causes genital warts. (CDC)

This vaccine is 70% effective for cervical cancer, and 90% effective for genital warts.

I believe this vaccine is extremely important to get and is a huge public health issue. About 80 million people are currently infected with HPV. That is one out of every four people. (CDC) On top of that, 14 million teenagers are becoming infected every single year.

Cervical cancer is the third most common cancer in the world. If we have the resources to prevent this, why wouldn't we? Cervical cancer is deadly in developing countries. If we were to make these vaccines more readily available to these countries, our mortality rate would decrease.

The incidence of HPV in 2014 was 33,000 new cases.

Current control measures for HPV vaccines: This vaccine is not required everywhere. There are only several states that require this vaccine in order to attend school. Some people cannot afford it, and some people are simply against vaccines.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30 Sept. 2015. Web. 16 Jan. 2016.

By Megan Pingle