Human Papilloma Virus is a virus that causes genital warts and is usually sexually transmitted. More than 100 types of this virus have been described. About 30 types cause warts (condyloma) only in the genital area, while others cause lesions on the hands, feet and skin. HPV is also very important because it is a virus that causes cancer-precursor lesions. If you are unprotected with someone who has this virus, you can also get the virus.
Although it is not known exactly in our country, it is reported that 6 million new HPV cases occur every year in the USA and there are more than 20 million carriers in the society. The incidence of genital warts in the whole society is around 1-2%. Genital warts are more common between the ages of 18-25, who are most sexually active.
What is Condyloma (Condyloma)?
The appearance of the warts that occur with the infection caused by HPV are the ones in the form of cauliflower. Condylomas in women are most common in the vulva (external genital organ), vagina, cervix and around the anus. It is seen in the penis, breech circumference and inguinal region in men.
What is the Relationship Between HPV Types and Cervical Cancer?
80% of women encounter HPV at some point in their lives. Within 1-2 years, 80% of it is cleared from the body spontaneously. However, if the HPV type has a high risk of cancer or if the person’s immune system has collapsed, deterioration at the cellular level is easier.
HPV infection is the most common sexually transmitted viral infection. The lifetime risk of HPV transmission to a person is around 75-90%. Since genital warts, deterioration in smear test and other findings are not observed in all HPV-infected cases, many HPV-carrying cases are not aware of the fact that they are HPV carriers.
Types 16 and 18 of HPV are the most common types that cause cervical cancer risk. HPV types 16 and 18 cause more than 80% of cervical cancers.
What are the Symptoms of HPV?
HPV rarely causes symptoms. Sometimes it does not give any symptoms and is discovered by chance during the examination.
– Warts formed in the external genital area can sometimes be noticed as palpable blisters.
Sometimes warts can give symptoms in the form of itching and burning.
– If a cancer lesion has occurred in the cervix, it may cause bleeding, breakthrough bleeding or a persistent and smelly discharge during and after intercourse, but this symptom can also be seen in other diseases.
How Long After HPV Infection Do Warts Form?
– The development period of genital warts in a person infected with HPV generally varies between 4 weeks and 8 months. There are also examples where this period is shortened or extended. In some cases, this virus may remain silent for months or years before the wart or cervix develops. Therefore, it may not be possible to identify when and from whom the disease was transmitted.
When the partners of women with HPV warts are examined, 65% of men have warts that are hard to see with the eye, so it is recommended that their spouses be checked.
HPV is also transmitted by oral sex (oral sexual intercourse). However, HPV lesions in the mouth are not very common. However, high-risk HPV was detected in 25% of cancers in the neck region.
Is HPV Transmitted Only Through Sexual Intercourse?
-There is no evidence of it passing through areas such as toilet seats, bathtubs, door handles, towels, pools. However, this does not completely eliminate the possibility of non-sexual transmission in some unexplained cases.
How is HPV Infection Disease Diagnosed?
–Diagnosis can be made by visualizing the lesions in the external genitalia.
– Smear test should be done for those with genital warts. In this test, the diagnosis can be made by seeing cell abnormalities (koilocytosis) specific to HPV infection.
–The diagnosis can be made by pathological examination in biopsies taken from warts or cervix.
It can be diagnosed with HPV DNA test, cervical swab and biopsies made from wart lesions.
HPV and Treatment
The condition treated in HPV treatment is the treatment of warts. The main principle is to destroy warts and reduce contagiousness and recurrence. For this, procedures such as cauterization (burning treatment), cryotherapy (freezing treatment) should be applied to remove warts without wasting time.
Despite treatment, sometimes recurrent warts can occur. Strengthening the person’s immune system can be applied in addition to the use of some creams.
Can a Treated Person Continue to Transmit HPV?
If the HPV lesions of the person are treated successfully and the immune system is strengthened, the contagiousness decreases. If the HPV lesions of the person recur despite the treatment, if the person’s HPV lesions are not fully healed or if his/her own immune system cannot defeat the remaining HPV and new lesions appear, it means that the contagiousness continues.
If no HPV lesion is detected in the examination, if the lesion no longer occurs for a few months after the treatment, then it shows that HPV is not secreted as contagious and the possibility of contagion is much reduced.
However, a person who has survived HPV in the past should honestly share this in terms of the health of the other party in a new relationship.
How Can I Protect From HPV Infection?
– avoiding sexual intercourse with a person with HPV lesions
– Getting the Gardasil vaccine or the Cervarix vaccine
– Using a condom during every sexual intercourse. Condoms protect the area of skin they cover, but HPV can be found in areas that they do not cover and may touch the partner’s skin. Again, despite the condom, the secretions on the skin can also contact the exposed skin of the partner and cause infection. Despite these, using condoms continuously reduces HPV transmission by 70%.
Cervical cancer is the second rank among female cancers all over the world, but early diagnosis has a special importance in terms of prevention. The simplest way to prevent this cancer is to have a regular smear test. Cervical cancer is the second rank among female cancers all over the world, but early diagnosis has a special importance in terms of prevention. The simplest way to prevent cervical cancer is to have regular smears. In the case of cell disruptions defined as SIL and CIN in the smear test, regular controls should be performed by taking a biopsy, confirming the diagnosis, and treating it with procedures called LEEP and Conization.
Common Misconceptions about HPV and Genital Warts;
Can HPV warts in the genital area spread to other parts of our body?
The genetic structures of viruses that cause warts in the genital area and HPV viruses that cause warts on the hands, feet and skin are different. Therefore, warts in the genital area cannot spread to another part of our body.
Will I definitely get cervical cancer when infected with HPV?
The best method for people infected with HPV, and indeed women in the whole society, to prevent cancer is smear screening. This disease can be treated very easily without cancer, as it is diagnosed early and caught in the stage of precancerous cell disorder.
Can genital warts be transmitted to my baby during pregnancy?
Genital warts during pregnancy are not transmitted to the baby. It can cause warts called Laryngeal Papillamatosis on the vocal cords of the baby at a rate of 1 in 30 000 during birth. Therefore, having a cesarean section may carry more risks for the mother and baby than this risk.
Are genital warts transmitted from the pool, toilet or towel?
Genital warts are most commonly transmitted sexually. It has not been shown in the researches that it can be transmitted from the area where one sits on the toilet, the pool, the places where they sit, the hand towel, the door handle. However, the possibility of non-sexual transmission in the formation of some unexplained HPV lesions has not been fully explained.
Can HPV warts be treated only with creams?
When HPV warts are detected, treatment should be started as soon as possible. Since cream treatments take a long time (16 weeks), it can be treated faster with Cauterization and Cryotherapy, faster results can be obtained, and its spread and proliferation are also stopped.
Can HPV vaccine be administered to all ages and HPV-infected cases?
It is recommended that the HPV vaccine be administered especially before the sexual life begins. The most preferred age range is 9-26 years old. The effect of vaccination after HPV infection is low.