By: Katie Herklotz & Catherine Carter
HPV affects 80 million Americans per year
What is HPV:
HPV (human papillomavirus) is a group of more than 150 viruses. The viruses gets its name from the warts (papillomas) that some strands of the disease can cause. HPV is passed through skin to skin contact and is most commonly spread through vaginal or anal sex. HPV is the number one STD among college students and is so common that almost all men and women get it at some point in their lives. HPV can be passed even when an infected person has no signs or symptoms. You can develop symptoms years after being infected, making it hard to know when you first became infected.
Know the signs:
- Genital warts
- Common warts
- Plantar warts
- Flat warts
What HPV can lead to:
HPV not only affects someone's current situation, but can lead to other problems down the road. Some of the future complications can occur are: cervical cancer, bleeding, and abnormal urine flow. If a women is pregnant and is infected with HPV, the chances of her baby receiving the disease is very slim. However, the vaccines for HPV can be very harmful to the unborn baby. If a pregnant women is infected, the doctor will usually not put her on any treatment methods and just monitor the pregnancy closely until the disease goes away on its own.
HPV is a virus that usually goes away on its own. The virus itself cannot be treated, but the body has the ability to clear it on its own. If you are tested positive for HPV, the doctor might wait to begin treatment. If the infection does not clear on its own, then the patient will need to be treated. As of now, there are three vaccines currently available. Cervarix, Gardasil, and Gardasil-9 are all viable options for treating HPV symptoms. There is no "cure" for HPV– only vaccines to reduce symptoms as the body gets rid of the virus on its own. In most patients that are infected with HPV, the infection will clear on its own within two years of detection.
Obviously, abstinence is the best way to avoid getting HPV, and all other sexually transmitted diseases. However, getting vaccinated beforehand is a highly successful way to avoid being infected. Limiting the number of sexual partners one has an using a condom are also effective ways to steering clear of the disease.