HPV Screening Kit-H

What is the human papillomavirus (HPV)?

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the name for a group of viruses that affect the skin and moist membranes of your body, for example, the cervix (entrance to the uterus), anus, mouth, and throat. There are several different strains of HPV: most have no symptoms, go away on their own, and do not cause any health problems, while other strains can cause cancer.

There are two main genital HPV infections that you should know about.

  • those that can cause genital warts: small growths around the genitals that are generally not painful and can be treated each time they appear. They are not cancer and they do not cause cancer.
  • those that can cause cervical, anal and other cancers. Most cases of cervical cancer are related to infection with certain types of HPV.

What do the symptoms of HPV look like?

Not all cases of HPV have symptoms. Symptoms vary depending on the strain of HPV.

Symptoms of genital HPV include:

Cancer-causing HPV (called high-risk HPV): In most cases, these do not cause any symptoms, and you can have HPV for many years without causing health problems. In addition to cervical cancer, HPV can also cause other cancers such as anal cancer, cancer of the penis, vagina, vulva, and back of the throat, although these are very rare.

How is HPV spread?

HPV infections are spread through skin-to-skin contact, often through a cut, abrasion, or a small tear in the skin.

Genital HPV infections are very common and are often easily transmitted through:

  • vaginal, anal, or oral sex without a condom (or dental dam), with someone who has an HPV infection (even if they have no symptoms)
  • sharing sex toys that are not washed or covered with a new condom each time they are used
  • close genital contact: this means that HPV can be transmitted even if there is no penetration, orgasm, or ejaculation.

How do you protect yourself from HPV?

  • Use a new condom or dental dam every time you have vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Remember that HPV can affect areas not covered by a condom, so it may not offer complete protection.
  • Wear a new dental dam or latex gloves for rimming and fingering (exploring your partner’s anus with your fingers, mouth, or tongue) or wear latex gloves for fisting.
  • Cover sex toys with a new condom for each partner and wash them after use.
  • Remember, the virus is not only transmitted through penetrative sex and can be transmitted through any genital skin-to-skin contact.

Get vaccinated

There are vaccines available to prevent certain types of HPV that can cause cancers and warts. These are often offered to adolescent girls, men who have sex with men, and people living with HIV. It’s best to get vaccinated before you start having sex, although it is sometimes possible to get vaccinated later in life. Ask a healthcare worker to find out if you can get the HPV vaccine where you are.

Remember, the vaccine only protects against certain strains of HPV and does not guarantee that you will not develop genital warts or cancer in the future. Therefore, it is important to use condoms and get regular cervical screenings (smears) when available.

Talk to your partner

It is important that you are able to discuss your sexual health with your partner. This way they can inform each other about any symptoms or infections and discuss how they will have safer sex together. If you have sex with multiple partners, it’s even more important to use condoms and get regular STI tests. Remember that condoms are the best form of protection against STIs and pregnancy. Other contraceptives, including the contraceptive pill, will not prevent HPV or PrEP.

Can I get tested for HPV?

Different strains of HPV are tested in different ways.

Genital warts (low-risk HPV)

A healthcare professional can quickly examine you for genital warts.

Cancer-causing HPV (high-risk HPV)

  • For women, the genital HPV test is often part of cervical screening, which looks for abnormal cells on the cervix (entrance to the uterus). The cervical screening test is not a cancer test, it is a test to check the health of the cells of the cervix. If you have changed the cells of the cervix, this does not mean that you have cervical cancer, but in some cases, the abnormal cells need to be removed so that they do not turn into cancer.
  • For men: There is currently no reliable test for HPV infection, and it is often very difficult to diagnose as there are no high-risk HPV symptoms. Some people who are at high risk of having anal HPV and developing anal cancer (for example, men who have sex with men or people living with HIV) may be offered an anal swab to look for abnormal cells in the canal. anal.

How is HPV treated?

Cancer-causing HPV (high-risk HPV): If a cervical screening test shows you have abnormal cells on your cervix, they may need to be removed so they don’t turn into cancer. If cervical cancer develops and is found early, it can usually be treated with surgery.

Genital warts (low-risk HPV): There is no cure for genital warts, but your body may shed the virus over time. Warts can be removed using creams, freezing or heating.

HPV and pregnancy

If you are a pregnant woman with HPV, it can be passed to your baby at birth, but this is rare. Talk to your healthcare worker if she is pregnant and is concerned about HPV, they will be able to advise you on her options.

HPV, HIV, and sexual health

  • Having an STI, including genital warts, can increase your risk of getting HIV. This is because having an STI makes it easier for HIV to enter your body and cause an infection.
  • People living with HIV are more likely to get HPV due to their weakened immune systems.
  • If someone living with HIV also has HPV, her viral load will increase, making her more likely to transmit HIV during unprotected sex, even if she is taking anti-HIV drugs (antiretrovirals). However, if they have an undetectable viral load, there is no evidence that HPV makes you more likely to transmit HIV.
  • The risk of developing HPV-related cancers is higher in people living with HIV who do not receive effective treatment. This is because your immune system is usually weaker.
  • Receiving HIV treatment (antiretrovirals), having an undetectable viral load, and having a higher CD4 cell count (more than 200) can reduce the risk of developing HPV-related cancers.
  • If you are taking antiretrovirals, it is important to talk with your healthcare professional about how HPV treatment can interact with your HIV medicines.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *