Human Papilloma Virus: Symptoms to Look For, and a Word on the HPV Vaccine

papillWhat is the Human Papilloma Virus?: HPV, or Human Papilloma Virus is the virus that causes HPV infections. It is the most common and prolific sexually transmitted disease today. There are over 40 different types of HPV that infect the genital areas of women and men of all ages. The virus is transmitted by contact with the mucous membranes and skin. Most people who have been infected with the human papilloma virus do not even know that they have it, and will not know unless they begin showing symptoms, which may or may not happen. However, they can always transmit the virus.

What Are the Symptoms of the Human Papilloma Virus?: As stated, some people will never know that they are infected with the virus. Those who begin showing symptoms may see the appearance of genital warts or be diagnosed with cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is the most common, but there are other forms that can be caused by the HPV virus. Genital warts most often appear as a group of bumps or one single bump, usually located in the genital area. If they appear at all, they usually appear within the months or weeks after infection after sexual contact. They can be flat or raised, large or small, and even cauliflower shaped. They could increase in number or size, remain unchanged, or even go away without treatment, although persistent warts can be removed by health care providers, or by patient applied medication. Unfortunately, cervical cancer does not show any symptoms until it has progressed into a severe stage, for that reason, it is of the utmost importance that women are screened regularly for cervical cancer. There is no cure for HPV itself, but a healthy immune system may be able to fight the virus off naturally. As for the diseases that hpv causes, there are treatments available to ease symptoms.

Is There Really a Human Papilloma Virus Vaccine?: The only way to completely protect yourself is to avoid sexual activity altogether. However, that is not the best answer for most people, and condoms do not fully protect either, so a vaccine has been developed that could possibly protect against the four strains of HPV that cause most genital warts and cervical cancers. It should be noted that the vaccine can only be given to women and girls of a certain age, between 13 and 26. If you are out of that age range, condoms coupled with a good knowledge of your partners sexual history is a start, but remember that it cannot protect you 100%.

Where Can I See A Picture of the Human Papilloma Virus?: Luckily, there are a great number of websites out there that are devoted to stopping the spread of HPV and have pictures you can view and faqs you can read through. Looking at a photo may help you self diagnose a problem before you have decided to go to the doctor, and also to be able to recognize the symptoms of HPV in your sexual partners.