Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection is about the commonest sexually transmitted disease known, especially among adolescents. There are many types of the virus.
The infection is caused by the Human Papilloma Virus, this virus is different from Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV).
The infection spreads through vaginal, anal and oral sexual intercourse but more through vaginal and anal with someone who has the virus.
Human papilloma virus infection may show no symptoms but may reveal itself several years later in the form of cancer. The cancer may affect the cervix, vagina, vulva, anus, penis or the back of the throat.
In some cases, genital warts may be the symptom, these could be large or small growth on the vagina, vulva, penis, anus, cervix; the growth could be a swelling, flattish growth or cauliflower in shape. The Human Papillomavirus that leads to genital warts is different from that which leads to cancer.
Risk factors for the disease include Promiscuity, polygamous relationships, frequent change of sexual partners and Homosexuality among men.
The complications of Human Papillomavirus infection include genital warts and cancer of the cervix, vagina, penis, vulva, anus and throat
You can save yourself from all these by avoiding the disease as advised below:
1. Be educated on Human Papilloma Virus infection
Gather enough information on Human Papilloma Virus infection especially how it spreads, the symptoms and the preventive measures you can take.
2. See a doctor if you feel you may have the infection
Human papilloma virus infection may show no symptoms but may reveal itself several years later in the form of warts or cancer. The cancer may affect the cervix, vagina, vulva, anus, penis or the back of the throat.
You should see a doctor if you notice warts on your penis, lips, anus or vagina.
3. Limit number of sex partners
The easiest way to contract Human Papilloma Virus infection is to have multiple sexual partners; abstain from sex till marriage or limit your-self to one partner at a time.
4. Use a condom
If you must engage in casual sex or sex with a high risk partner such as a commercial sex worker, then you must use a condom. However this does not prevent infection completely as infection can occur through un-covered area.
5. Go for screening
There is no way of knowing your Human Papilloma Virus status. However women aged 30 years and above can go for screening for cervical cancer by PAP’s smear, abnormal result could indicate previous infection of Human Papilloma virus. There is no way for screening for HPV in men.
6. Partner notification
Notify your sex partner if you have genital warts or any other sexually transmitted disease so that he or she can go for treatment.
7. Avoid sex with high risk group.
Avoiding sex with members of high risk groups is the beginning of wisdom. These groups include commercial sex workers, long distance lorry drivers, refugees, convicts, migratory labourers. If it must happen then use a condom.
A vaccine against Human Papilloma Virus is now available; all boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 12 years should be vaccinated. Three shots are given within a period of six months.
Those males who missed the vaccination can have it up till 21 years of age while the females up till 26 years of age.
Homosexual and bisexual men are advised to go for it up till 26 years of age. The same applies to all those who have reduced immunity.