Communicable Diseases

HPV (Human Papillomavirus)


  • Infection caused by a group of very common viruses around the world
  • HPV is mostly sexually transmitted.
  • Most often, HPV infection doesn’t cause any noticeable symptoms or health problems.
  • Some types of HPV can lead to genital warts or cervical cancer.
  • A test performed on women aged 21 years or older is an effective way to prevent cervical cancer. 

HPV infection is a viral infection and one of the most common genital infections. There are over 100 types of HPV, which are passed through sexual contact and can lead to genital warts, growth of abnormal cells in the cervix, or cervical cancer. 

  • Two strains of HPV, types 6 and 11, cause 90% percent of genital warts; however, these strains do not cause cervical cancer. 
  • Strains HPV 16 and 18 cause at least 70% of cervical cancer cases and are considered the most dangerous of all HPV strains. Other high-risk HPV types are 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58. They cause 19% of cervical cancer cases.  Less common types of HPV that cause cervical cancer are 35, 39, 51, 56, and 59.

Genital warts:
The types of HPV that cause genital warts are mostly transmitted through skin-to-skin contact with an infected person.
Warts can appear in the entire genital area, including on the vulva, inside the vagina, and in or around the anus.
Warts can appear on the penis and scrotum or around the anus.

HPV is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, including sexual contact or any kind of contact with the genital area, such as: Touching an infected person’s genitals; HPV cannot be transmitted through touching surfaces such as: A toilet seat
HPV can still be transmitted from a person to another, even if the infected person is showing no symptoms.

HPV infection occurs when the virus enters your body, usually through a cut, abrasion or small tear in your skin. The virus is transferred primarily by skin-to-skin contact, including contact with the genital area. 

Risk factors:
  • Coming in contact with the infected person’s warts; 
  • A weakened immunity.

Most HPV patients don’t suffer from any significant symptoms or health problems. Often, the body clears the HPV infection on its own in a couple of years. However, in some cases, the infection might last longer and could cause some types of cancer and other diseases. 

When to see a doctor?
When painful warts are noticed.

Cervical cancer

Some screenings are available to detect HPV, including:
Pap test: Regular Pap tests can help identify abnormal cells and keep track of any unusual changes that could signal cervical cancer. 

There is no cure for HPV itself, however, there are treatments available for the problems that it may cause, which include:
  • Genital warts: They may be visible, grow more, or go away on their own. They can be treated when they appear.
  • Abnormal cervical cells: These cells can be treated to prevent cervical cancer from developing; however, treatment depends on the severity of cell changes, the age of the woman, her medical history, and other test results.
  • Cervical cancer remains one of the most treatable kinds of cancer when diagnosed and treated early. 

  • Initial HPV prevention can be through HPV vaccine for girls that are 11 or 12 years of age. They can also receive the HPV vaccine at the age of 9 years old.
  • Women between the age of 21 and 29 should undergo a cervical test every 3 years, alongside with pap tests.
  • Women between the age of 30 and 65 should undergo a pap test every 5 years, alongside with an HPV test.

  • How does HPV lead to cervical cancer?
    • Most HPV-positive cases are cleared on their own within a year or two. In some cases, the infection could be chronic and develop into cervical cancer.  Cervical changes that lead to cancer could take 15 to 20 years to occur in women with a normal immune system. As for women with weakened immunity, changes may take between 5 to 10 years to happen.
  • Can cervical cancer be prevented?
    • Yes, it can be prevented through regular pap tests carried out at the proper age, and closely watching changes in the cervix. 

Myths & Truths:
  • Mytrh: HPV can be treated with vaccination.
    • Truth: There is no vaccine for HPV with the purpose of treating cervical, anal and other cancers. However, the vaccine prevents some types of HPV that are more likely to cause these types of cancer.

Clinical Education General Department
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Last Update : 12 July 2020 07:17 AM
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