What is the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)?
The human papilloma virus (HPV) is the most common virus that is transmitted via sexual contact and affects both men and women. It is prevalent among young people and can reach up to 80%. There are more than 100 strains of the virus, most of which do not cause the disease or any symptoms, but about 30 strains can cause disease in the genital area, mouth and throat.
Most people usually easily overcome the infections that the virus generates and do not suffer from any symptoms or complications. Only a minority of individuals who are infected may develop: cancer of the cervix, vagina and throat or pre-cancerous lesions and genital warts in women and rectal and throat cancer or pre-cancerous lesions and genital warts in men.
It is important to remember: the strains responsible for the warts do not cause cervical cancer!
The assumption is that without immunization, most peple who have ever had any sexual contact will be infected by one or more HPV strains duirng their lifetime.
How do you contract HPV?
Any man or woman, of any age, who participates in any type of sexual activity that includes contact with genitalia, is at risk of becoming infected with the HPV virus, and most of those infected will never even see any symptoms. This means that they can transfer the virus to others (infect them) without even knowing it.
The chances of becoming infected with the HPV virus exist already with the first sexual contact. Skin to skin contact with a person who is infected with the virus is sufficient. This is also the reason why a condom does not completely prevent the risks of becoming infected with the disease.
How will I know if have become infected with HPV
HPV occurs without any signs or symptoms and therefore most of those infected are not even aware that they are infected.
Strains related to cancer: Most women who are infected first discover it during a pap smear. A pap smear is a gynecological examinations that assists in discovering abnormal cells in the cervix that may become cancerous.
Strains related to warts: Genital warts are caused by different strains of the virus and can be seen or felt during a physical examination. They can usually be found on the inner or outer sides of the genitals or the rectum for men and women. They can be painful, itchy, bleed and lead to discomfort. Most of the time warts disappear on their own without any treatment within a few months and up to a few years. In some cases, treatments such as ointments or even freezing, burning or laser, are necessary. No treatment entirely prevents the recurrence of the warts since HPV is a dormant virus, not one that disappears. As mentioned above, in most cases, the strains that are responsible for the warts do not cause cancer.
How is it possible to prevent disease caused by HPV?
Today there are several vaccines against the virus that are designed for men and women.
The vaccine is given in three doses over six months, and it is important to complete the entire treatment (all 3 vaccines) in order to get maximum efficiency.
The vaccine is given as part of the HMO plans with a referral from the attending physician and at a subsidized cost.
Vaccines do not protect from any other sexually transmitted diseases and therefore a condom should be used for any sexual contact.
For any additional questions concerning sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS, you can call the clinic’s hotline number: 03-791-9704. For the hotline’s hours of operation and additional information, please press here. You can also receive a response from our forum at http://www.starmed.co.il/forum-84/.
The Levinsky Clinic staff is happy to be at your service.