Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

A Vaccine Preventable Illness

Identification and Defintion

HPV is the most commonly spread sexually transmitted infection (STI). There are many strains, most common strains are known to cause genital warts and cervical cancer, though not all strains do. The CDC recommends all kids ages 11 and 12 get vaccinated against HPV.

History

Interestingly, scientist became treating cervical cancer via hysterectomies in the early 1900s, before they started early screening methods or knew how women got cervical cancer.

In 1928, George Papancolaou developed what is now known as a PAP test, it is widely used to screen against cervical cancers and it done by a gynecologist at a women's annual exam.

1983 marks the year that HPV was discovered and identified as the cause for cervical cancer, this discovery was led by scientist Harald zur Hausen.

Since 1983 many new strains of HPV have been identified and the medical community has made many advancements in both treatment and screening protocols in support of disease prevention and early detection of HPV.

In 2006- the FDA approved the use of Gardasil, the most known vaccine to prevent against the 2 most common strains of HPV, that together account for nearly 70% of cervical cancer cases.

SIgns and Symptoms

-HPV that causes genital warts: the genital warts can vary in size, shape and number. However, they are often small bumps in the genital area that are either flat or shaped like cauliflower.

-HPV that causes cervical cancer is much harder to diagnosis because it is asymptomatic until it has advanced to late stage-which at that point women have reported that they experience vaginal bleeding or unusual discharge after intercourse.

Transmission

HPV is transmitted during all types of intercourse (anal, oral, and vaginal). Both men and women can transmit and be infected with HPV, but only women can be infected with the strains that cause cervical cancers, men can be carriers of the strain. HPV signs and symptoms are often very hard to detect which means a person may not know they are a carrier or have the infection and spreading the illness.

Complications

Though there is no cure for HPV, treatment and early diagnosis is important in preventing the spread of the infection. The most common complications are the development of genital warts and certain kinds of cancers (like cervical cancers or cancers of the mouth/throat)

Current Recommendations

1. GET VACCINATED
2. BE SCREENED
3. IF sexually active, use latex condoms correctly EVERY TIME you engage in sexual behaviors AND be in a mutually monogamous relationship.

These recommendations are from the CDC. The easiest way to protect against HPV is to be vaccinated early and then follow up with booster shots in your early 20s.