HPV – Human papilloma virus is the name for a group of viruses that affect your skin and the moist membranes lining your body. Everyone will at some point be exposed to this virus as it can be spread by kissing, touching and sex.
The HPV virus is very common and is easily spread by sexual activity. As many as half the population will be infected at some time in their life. In most cases, the virus doesn’t do any harm because your immune system gets rid of the infection. But in some cases, the infection persists and can lead to health problems.
It mainly affects your cervix, anus and mouth and throat, areas which are delicate and moist.
There are more than 100 types of HPV. Around 30 types of HPV infection can affect the genital area.
Genital HPV infections are common and highly contagious. They are spread during sexual intercourse and skin-to-skin contact of the genital areas.
Infection with some types of genital HPV can cause:
❤️ genital warts – which is the second most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in England.
This is what you need to look for, if your partner has genital warts DO NOT HAVE INTIMATE RELATIONS with them, this means no touching, kissing or intercourse.
❤️ abnormal tissue growth and other changes to cells within your cervix – this can lead to cervical cancer
Girls Only – Vaccine
The Gardasil vaccine is now part of the NHS childhood vaccination programme. Giving the vaccine several years before a person is likely to become sexually active increases its effectiveness.
Girls aged 12-13 in the UK are offered a vaccination against HPV to help protect them against types of HPV that can cause cervical cancer. Women aged 25-64 are offered cervical screening to check for abnormal cells in the cervix.
Other types of HPV infection can cause minor problems, such as common skin warts and verrucas.
Can The Genital HPV Be Prevented?
Using condoms can reduce your risk of getting a genital human papilloma virus (HPV) infection. You can also be vaccinated against some types of HPV.
Using a condom during sex can help to prevent an HPV infection. However, condoms don’t offer complete protection. HPV can be present all over the area around your genitals and anus, and is spread through skin-to-skin contact of the genital area – including oral sex.
If you’ve been treated for genital warts (which are caused by HPV), you should use a condom for three to six months after your treatment finishes. This may reduce the risk of passing the virus on to your partner if they haven’t already been exposed.
Can You Test For HPV?
There is no blood test for genital HPV, but it can be tested for by taking a sample of cells.
For Women, Genital HPV testing is part of cervical screening, which is offered to all women aged 25-64.
For Men, there is currently no reliable test for HPV infection and it’s often very difficult to diagnose, as there are no symptoms for high-risk HPV.
Can You Treat HPV?
Although there’s no treatment for the HPV virus itself, treatments are available for its effects. Most HPV infections don’t cause any serious harm and are cleared by your immune system within two years.
Genital warts can be treated by either: applying creams, lotions or chemicals to the warts, destroying the tissue of the warts by freezing, heating or removing them.
Cervical Cancer, persistent infection with certain “high-risk” types of HPV can cause changes to cells in the cervix, which can increase the risk of cervical cancer. The types of HPV that cause genital warts are “low-risk” and aren’t associated with an increased risk of cervical cancer. Abnormal cells in the cervix can be treated if detected early, which is why it’s important to attend cervical screening when invited.