Human Papillomavirus (HPV): Causes, Symptoms, Getting Tested and More!

Human papillomavirus, simply known as HPV, is a viral infection that passed through skin contact. HPV can be attributed to a considerable number (over 100) of different viruses, of which 40 are transmitted through sexual contract. HPV can affect various parts of the body, mainly throat, mouth and private parts. Human papillomavirus is considered to be a common sexually transmitted infection, which can affect both genders, and most sexually active people can have, or may have had HPV at some point, even if they have limited sexual relations. You can talk to your doctor if you suspect the infection or opt for an HPV test at home. Here’s everything else you need to know.

What causes Human papillomavirus (HPV)?

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is mostly caused by sexual contact. It is important to understand that Human papillomavirus (HPV) is spread through skin contact, so penetrative sex is not always required to get the infection. For example, a newborn may get HPV from an infected mother. Sexual contact may refer to oral sex, anal penetration or any form of genital contact.

Understanding the symptoms

We have a strong immune system that’s capable of tacking HPV infection, but as the condition progresses, warts may appear on the skin. Most commonly, people who get HPV through sexual contact have genital warts, which appear like pumps on the skin and can be mostly seen in the vagina, cervix or anus in women. In case of men, genital warts can be found on the scrotum or penis. There are no typical symptoms of genital warts, except that some may itch. You may also find common warts in different parts of the body, including elbows, fingers and hands. Typically, common warts aren’t painful, but in some cases, these can be prone to bleeding and are simply unsightly. Warts can also appear on the feet and heels, called plantar warts, while some children can have flat warts anywhere on the body.

Getting vaccinated

Vaccination for Human papillomavirus (HPV) can protect women from cervical cancer. Most cases of cervical cancer can be linked to HPV, and more often than not, women don’t realize that they have been infected. Since there are no visible signs of cervical cancer at an early stage, it is often diagnosed later. If a person has repeated infections with HPV strains, precancerous lesions can occur, which can eventually lead to cancer. Women are recommended to take up Pap tests, which helps in finding any possible signs of such precancerous changes, which can eventually lead to cancer.

Know the HPV test kit

Understandably, both men and women have issues and concerns while taking about STIs, but consulting a doctor is recommended. If you want to keep things simple and confidential, you can go for an HPV test, which is a self-collection kit that comes with all the required information and things required to take the sample. The HPV test should be taken once in year, and the sample is usually checked and examined for high-risk HPV DNA subtypes. A typical kit usually includes Qvintip self-sampling wand, a protective packing wallet, request form and a prepaid envelope. Follow the instructions to take the sample, and send back the same to the lab using the prepaid envelope for testing.

If you choose to get tested for HPV at home, you will find the results in just two to five days from the date the same gets to the lab. Report will include individual for subtypes 16 and 18, and collective for subtypes 31, 33, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 56, 58, 59, 66, and 68.

Should I get tested?

HPV isn’t often considered as a serious condition, more because the symptoms are not very obvious. However, this also stresses on the fact for getting tested regularly, at least once in a year. HPV is related to cervical cancer, and it should NOT be ignored. Just getting tested is a great way to prevent and diagnose cervical cancer. Women over the age of 30 should get tested once in two to three years, depending on the doctor’s recommendation. Even when the test is positive, HPV can be treated, and therefore, getting tested is the best way forward. The good thing is HPV tests are now easy to afford and avail for most people.

Getting tested for HPV is more important for people who have multiple sexual partners. Age, weak immune systems, and damaged skin are considered some of the risk factors. “Gardasil”, “Gardasil 9”, and “Cervarix” are three common vaccines that are known to protect against cervical cancer, so talk to your doctor to know more.