Lifetime Effects of HPV
The Wart Disease
Human Papillomavirus, or HPV, is often referred to as the wart virus or genital wart virus since some of the strains of HPV cause genital warts. There are over 100 different strains or types of HPV and it is the most common form of STI, sexually transmitted infection, in most countries. Up to 75% of people in most Western countries will be infected with HPV during their lifetime and most of them will not know they've been infected since there are often no signs of it.
Cancer & HPV
Typing of HPV virus is made according to the specific virus' link to cancer. The low-risk type of viruses cause genital warts and the high-risk strains are associated with 70 percent of the cases of cervical cancers. While most women who are exposed to HPV do not develop cancer of the cervix, the infection can remain and slowly develop into cancer if not found and treated.
Who Gets HPV?
HPV is passed from person to person through direct skin-to-skin contact which occurs during sexual contact of any kind. A person may have HPV and not know because they have no symptoms. However, the infection can be passed to a sexual partner, regardless. Depending upon the type of HPV the original person is infected with, the partner can develop warts, abnormalities of the cervix, cancer of the cervix or other genitalia. Many people are exposed to HPV virus during the course of their entire lifetime and even if they use a condom, the danger is still very real and present. The virus can enter through skin that remains uncovered by the condom. Symptoms can take up to two or three months to develop and even years before they appear. A person may carry HPV for their entire life without having symptoms.
HPV is highly contagious and can be given to anybody with whom an infected person comes in sexual contact. The virus remains in the body during a person's entire life - it never goes away, so the risks are always dormant within a person. Knowing all of these facts, it can be overwhelming when one thinks about the net effect of HPV and sexual conduct.
Prevention & Cures
The best way to prevent HPV and other STDs and STIs is to practice abstinence. If a person is in a relationship, staying monogamous is a good practice. If a person has multiple sexual partners, then proper protection should be at the top of the list of things to do. Condoms may provide some protection and do reduce the risk of getting most STIs. Women should have regular pap tests to be checked for cervical cancer. It is a highly treatable cancer and if caught in time there are excellent recovery possibilities.
There has been an HPV vaccine developed and made available which is suggested for use for young girls and young women from the ages of 12 through 26. It is recommended this vaccine be given before becoming sexually active to prevent contracting HPV.