Getting the Facts About HPV

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HPV stands for Human Papillomavirus.  HPV is a common virus of which there are over 100 different types. Forty out of the 100 types of HVP are spread through sexual contact and can infect the genital area in a variety of ways.

In many individuals, HPV does not cause symptoms and will clear up on its own in time. However, some types of HPV may cause warts in the genital area. At least 15 more serious types of HPV can cause cervical cancer. Unfortunately, there is currently no medicine that can cure the HPV virus.  Thankfully, there are now two different vaccines that can be used to prevent HPV.

Many people mistakenly think that HPV only affects girls and young women. This is not the case. Both men and women can and do get HPV.   Both men and women can develop genital warts as a result of HPV. Both men and women can also develop cancer from an HPV infection, however, only women can develop cervical cancer.  Throat cancer in men has been linked to the HPV virus.

Many individuals also mistakenly believe that you cannot contract HPV if you or your partner uses a condom. This is not true. While condoms do protect against most Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), they do not protect you completely against contracting HPV. This is because the virus can spread through skin-to-skin contact with infected areas of the skin that are not covered by the condom.  This is a very important fact about HPV.

While many woman believe that if they contract HPV, they will automatically get cervical cancer, this is not the case. Fortunately, only a small number of HPV infections will cause cancer.  If the HPV virus is detected and treated in time, cervical cancer can be prevented in many cases.

As mentioned above, there are currently two vaccines available on the market that can protect you from contracting HPV. If you have not been vaccinated, talk to your OBGYN today to see if the HPV vaccine is right for you and to discuss other ways to reduce your risks for contracting HPV.

Posted on behalf of Dr. Carlos Alarcon, Marietta OB-GYN Affiliates, P.A.

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