HUMAN PAPILLOMAVIRUS AND GENITAL WARTS 

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a group of viruses that cause the formation of warts on various parts of the body, mainly the genitals. A sexually-transmitted disease, genital warts are soft, flat growths on the genitals or anal region. Other areas affected may include mouth, hands, and feet.

Prevalence: 

  • Most common STD
  • Equally prevalent in both the sexes
  • Women more prone to complications
  • Sexually active at a younger age predisposes one to HPV

Spreads through: 

  • Unprotected sex
  • Oral or anal sex
  • Sex with multiple partners
  • Direct skin to skin contact with warts or body fluids
  • mother to baby through childbirth

Symptoms: 

  • There may be no symptom at all or typical warts may appear a few weeks to about 6 months after infection
  • Soft, fleshy growths resembling a cauliflower can be seen or felt on the genitals i.e. penis, scrotum, vagina, urethra or anus.
  • Warts can be painful, itchy or bleeding
  • Warts can be present on the lips, mouth, throat or tongue as a result of oral sex
  • Usually, warts are present in groups or clusters, of different shapes and sizes.
  • More readily present if the infected individual is immune-compromised such as during pregnancy, chemotherapy, diabetes, stress, etc

The most common complication of genital warts is cervical cancer in females. Other diseases include cancer of the vulva, penile or anal cancer.

Prevention: 

  • HPV vaccine offers protection against this dreaded disease
  • Practice safe sex– use a condom properly for every act.
  • Stick to one partner
  • Avoid smoking as it reduces your immunity
  • Avoid indulging in sexual activities at a young age i.e. below 20 yrs.

Diagnosis: 

  • Physical examination by a medical professional
  • Blood test
  • PAP smear test

Treatment: 

  • Symptoms may wean off on their own and oral medications may be prescribed to clear off the virus from the body.
  • Warts may be removed by cryotherapy, electrocautery, surgery, laser or topical applications.

 

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