What is HPV and how is it found? Symptoms and Prevention
What is HPV?
What is HPV, The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV, or HPV for its acronym in English) is a family of viruses that can affect the skin, the area of the mouth, the genital or anal area. There are more than 200 types of viruses, but just over 40 affect the genital area and can be divided into two large groups:
The so-called ” low-risk ” HPVs , which are generally associated with benign lesions, such as warts, and do not progress to precancerous lesions or cancer.
The so-called ” high-risk ” HPVs can lead to alteration of cells, generating precancerous lesions, which over time can evolve and become cancer.
The most common type of cancer caused by high-risk HPVs is cervical cancer. The other types of HPV-related genital cancers (penis, anus) are less common. HPV has also been linked to some cancers of the mouth and throat.
How is it transmitted?
Genital HPV is transmitted from one person to another through skin-to-skin contact during sexual intercourse. The virus is not contracted by using toilets, sharing utensils, or in the pool.
It is an easily transmitted virus and is very common . It is estimated that 4 out of 5 people (or 80%) will get one or more of the HPV types at some point in their lives. Both women and men can contract and transmit HPV.
What are the symptoms?
Most of the time, HPV infection has no obvious symptoms and the immune system is responsible for spontaneously curing it. In general , low-risk HPV causes warts on the genitals or anus: bumps or bumps that can be of various sizes and in severe cases are often shaped like a “cauliflower.” Warts can be treated, although they can come back if the person’s immune system has not completely eliminated HPV.
The types of HPV that cause warts do not cause cancer. High-risk HPVs usually have no symptoms .
Having HPV does not mean that a lesion will develop. It is estimated that only 5% of HPV infections do not go away on their own and become persistent. Only if the infection persists for many years (it is estimated from 5 to 10 years), HPV with high oncogenic risk can cause lesions in the cervix that can progress to cancer.
How is it detected?
The Pap test (commonly called PAP) and the Human Papilloma Virus test are two types of medical examinations that identify changes in the cervix that reveal the possibility of developing cervical cancer.
The Pap smear is a pelvic exam that detects changes in the cells of the cervix before cancer develops. It consists of inserting a speculum into the vagina to separate the walls and, later, collect a sample of the cells of the cervix with a spatula or brush. This sample is sent to the laboratory to be analyzed for abnormal cell changes. It is recommended that from the age of 25 all women have the exam.
It is a simple exam that does not require anesthesia
It is free in Health Centers and hospitals throughout the country
It is done by health professionals.
To do this, you must not be menstruating or have had sexual intercourse 48 hours before
It is recommended that all trans men and women undergo the PAP periodically.
If the PAP result is negative, it means that no lesions were detected on the cervix.
If the PAP result is abnormal or altered, it means that there is some type of injury that needs to be controlled and, if necessary, treatment started. The PAP is performed free of charge in health centers and hospitals throughout the country.