What is a papilloma virus?
Human papilloma virus (HPV) is a common sexually transmitted infection among men and women.
How do you get infected?
There are more than 100 different types of human papilloma virus (HPV) transmitted mainly during sexual contact, but not only. The virus can also be transmitted through the skin in the pubic area, without sex. About 80% of sexually active people will catch the virus during their lifetime.
How can I avoid infection? Is a condom enough?
Condom provides partial protection. The virus can be found in various places in the pubic area, including areas that the condom does not cover. Therefore, there is a chance of infection despite the use of a condom (it is important to continue using condoms to prevent other sexually transmitted diseases!).
The most effective way to prevent HPV infection is by vaccinating against it.
What happens when you get infected?
Different virus types cause different diseases. In some infections, nothing will happen.
There are several types of the virus that can cause cancer and two types that can cause genital warts but are not carcinogenic. The types of HPV that cause warts are called condyloma.
Warts are not a medical hazard but an aesthetic nuisance. They may go away by spontaneously (after a few months), and can be burned or removed by surgery or laser. It is important to know that the wart treatment is only cosmetic and does not treat the virus itself!
In a small number of cases the virus will remain dormant in the body and after many years can cause the development of cancer, including cervical cancer, penis cancer, rectal cancer, pharynx cancer and other cancers.
Can I check if I have been infected?
As of now (2018) there is no approved test for the detection of HPV. Most carriers of the HPV virus do not develop symptoms and therefore do not even know they have contracted the virus.
The appearance of condyloma warts is a sign. A venereologist can identify the wart by looking.
Women perform PAP testing to detect precancerous cervical developments as part of a standard gynecological examination, and thus, at early detection, they can receive effective treatment. The test examines whether past infection has occurred and caused tumors to develop.
Is there a connection between the number of sexual partners and HPV?
The greater the number of partners, the greater the chance of infection. However, infection can occur even if there is only one partner If this partner has been infected in the past.
Is there a treatment for HPV?
The only treatment for HPV is prophylactic, that is, vaccination against the virus.
Treatment of warts is cosmetic only and in most cases (as well as in cases where there are no symptoms) there will be spontaneous recovery after several months to two years.
Women who have precancerous cervical changes can receive effective treatment and prevent the spread of cancer.
About the vaccine
The current vaccine in Israel is called GARDASIL. It is against four types of papilloma (HPV). The two types of papilloma responsible for the development of cancers and two types that cause genital warts.
In other places in the world there is a vaccine that protects against 9 types, but it is not accessible in Israel. The vaccine is given in three doses in the course six months.
The vaccine is given worldwide, to girls and boys.It is recommended to vaccinate women from the age of 13 to the age of 45, and men from the age of 13 to the age of 26. The vaccine is included in the health basket in Israel from 2013, and is given in the eighth grade in schools.
The vaccine can be obtained through the health basket at every health fund for women up to the age of 18 and men up to the age of 26. Women can receive the vaccine until the age of 45 at a cost of 300 NIS.
Is the vaccine safe?
Yes. The vaccine has been tested on more than 40 million men and women worldwide. The only side effects associated with the vaccine were fever and pain and/or redness at the injection site. Sometimes there can be a general unplesent feeling that does not last for long. In addition, among adolescents, it was found that the administering of the vaccine may cause dizziness and therefore it is recommended to give the vaccine sitting or lying down.
However, there is a rare side effect that is expressed in a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine. This allergic reaction is very rare and appears in 1 in a million.
How effective is the vaccine?
In Australia, where the vaccine has been given for more than 10 years, there have been almost no cases of genital warts (condyloma) and cancers associated with the human papilloma virus. The Australian government is talking about eradicating the virus in the next few years.
Similar findings were found in Denmark. That is, a significant reduction in precancerous lesions and genital warts among those who have been immunized.
The vaccine’s effectiveness increases as you become vaccinated at a younger age.