What is HPV?
• Over 100 types of HPV have been identified. Most are relatively harmless, causing skin warts (kulugo) commonly found on the hands and feet.
• In most cases, HPV is cleared by the body’s immune system. In people who do not clear the virus, however, the health consequences depend on the type of HPV involved.
• “Low-risk” types (6 and 11) can cause genital warts and abnormal cervical changes that result in abnormal Pap tests
• “High-risk” types (16 and 18) can cause cervical, vulvar, vaginal, penile, and anal cancers and abnormal cervical changes that sometimes lead to cancer
• HPV 6 and 11 cause approximately 90% of genital warts cases.
• HPV 16 and 18 cause approximately 70% of cervical cancer cases.
• At least 50% of sexually-active people will get genital HPV infection. Most will not know that they are infected. (Based on US data)
• About 10% of women in the general population have cervical HPV infection at a given time (Based on US data)
How is HPV infection spread?
• HPV infection is spread mainly by direct genital contact during vaginal or anal sex.
• Other modes of transmission:
- Hand-genital transmission
- Oral-genital transmission
• Very rarely, a pregnant woman with genital HPV can pass HPV to her baby during vaginal delivery. In these cases, the child may develop warts in the throat or voice box – a condition called recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RRP).
Who is at risk for HPV infection?
• Have many sex partners
• Are younger than 25 years of age
• Have started sexual intercourse at age 16 or younger
• Have a partner who has had several different partners
A person who has had sex with only one partner can get HPV if that partner already has the virus. HPV can also be picked up from having sex with an infected person at any age.
What are the Diseases Caused by HPV?
HPV can lead to Cervical Cancer and Other Cancers
• Most HPV infections do not progress to cancer. However, those that do cause considerable suffering among patients and their family.
• Half of women afflicted by cervical cancer are between 35 to 55 years of age—the peak years of productivity. Many were probably exposed to one of the high-risk HPV types during their teens or 20s.
• Virtually 100% of cervical cancer cases worldwide (with almost 500,000 new cases and 270,000 deaths each year) are caused by HPV.
• Approximately 40% of vulvar and vaginal cancer cases are caused by HPV.
• Approximately 90% of anal cancer cases are caused by HPV.
• Approximately 40% of penile cancer cases are caused by HPV.
• Approximately 12% of oropharynx (tongue and tonsils) cancer cases and 3% of mouth cancer cases are caused by HPV.
HPV causes Genital Warts
• Genital warts are the most easily-recognized sign of genital HPV infection. They appear within weeks or months after infection, usually within 3 months.
• Two out of three individuals who have sex with a partner with genital warts will develop warts.
• Genital warts appear soft and moist, flesh-colored, in clusters, smooth and flat, or raised with a rough texture.
• In women, genital warts develop on the vulva, cervix, vagina and anus. In men, genital warts can appear around the anus or on the penis, scrotum, groin, or thighs.
HPV causes RRP
• Recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RRP) is a rare condition in which warty growths develop in the larynx (voice box) of children and young adults. If not surgically removed, the warts can obstruct the airway and cause asphyxiation.
Because of its recurrent nature, RRP may require surgery under general anesthesia as often as every few weeks.
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