Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) Infection – Symptoms, Tests, Prevention

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the genital areas of males and females during vaginal, anal sex, oral sex and genital-to-genital contact. It can be passed on between straight and same-sex partners—even when the infected partner has no signs or symptoms.

There are more than 40 HPV types. The mouth and throat are mostly infected. Most people unaware of it even they have it.

Signs and Symptoms

Mostly the body’s immune system clears HPV naturally within two years.  But uncleared HPV can cause different symptoms and health problems:

Genital warts

A small bump or group of bumps appears in the genital area in small or large, raised or flat, or shaped like a cauliflower. Warts can appear within weeks or months after sexual contact with an infected partner. Genital warts might go away, remain unchanged, or increase in size or number if left untreated. They will not turn into cancer.

Recurrent Respiratory Papillomatosis( RRP)

Rarely warts grow in the throat, block the airway, and cause a hoarse voice or troubled breathing.

Other HPV-related cancers

These are less common but serious cancers and not visible until they are advanced and hard to treat which include cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and oropharynx (back of throat including base of tongue and tonsils).

Tests

Certain Pap test findings of HPV tests can be used for women at certain ages for cervical cancer. There is no general / approved test for men or women to check one’s overall “HPV status”.

Preventions & Recommendations

  • Genital warts:  Protecting by vaccine (Gardasil)
  • Cervical Cancer:  Preventing women by Cervarix and Gardasil vaccines, routine cervical cancer screening and follow-up of abnormal results.
  • Anal Cancers:  Protecting female and male by Gardasil vaccine. Screening is not routinely recommended since it needs more information.
  • Penile Cancers: No approved screening test to find early signs.
  • Oropharyngeal Cancers: No approved screening test to find early signs
  • RRP: Cesarean delivery is not recommended for women with genital warts to prevent juvenile-onset RRP (JORRP) in their babies. Because it is not sure that prevents JORRP in infants and children.