Human papillomavirus or (HPV) is known as a viral infection that is transmitted between people through skin to skin and can lead to cervical cancer, anal cancer, vaginal cancer, and mouth and throat cancer. While HPV is often transmitted through sexual contact, it can also be transmitted in other situations, such as transfer from the placenta to the fetus, skin contact with an area of the body that has warts related to the HPV virus, etc. This virus has more than 200 types and each of them is known as HPV type with a specific number.
HPV can cause warts on the hands and feet, genital areas, and cervical cancer. Although some types do not show any symptoms (high-risk types may be asymptomatic at first).
While warts can be passed from person to person or even from one area of the body to another, the most worrisome types of HPV are those that can cause precancerous changes in the body. These changes, known as dysplasia, can occur in the cervix, vagina, vulva, anus, penis, or oropharynx (the area at the back of the mouth and throat that includes the back of the tongue and tonsils).
In the continuation of this article, we will talk about the types of HPV virus and the diseases caused by it, the introduction of the best vaccine that currently has the highest effectiveness for people, and also the right age to receive the vaccine.
Most people will eventually get HPV
Almost everyone who has had sex will be infected with one or more types of HPV during their lifetime. But many of them never realize that this virus is present in their body, because it does not show any symptoms and may remain in the body without symptoms for a long time.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 80 percent of women will contract the virus before age 50. Most of the time, these infections disappear on their own within a few months to a few years and do not leave any bad and long-term complications. But in other cases, HPV can stay in the body, cause cell changes, and lead to cervical cancer or other problems.
There are many types of HPV
Fortunately, not all types of HPV cause problems. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States, about 40 types of this virus are transmitted through vaginal, anal, and oral sex, and at least 12 of them have been linked to cancer, of which most types 16 and 18 cause They become cancers.
Men can also get HPV
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost everyone who has sex gets infected with HPV, which often goes away on its own and is cleared by the body’s immune system. But if the HPV virus remains in the body, it can also cause cancer of the throat, penis and anus in men.
HPV can cause recurrent respiratory papillomatosis
Although genital warts are the most common symptoms of HPV, HPV can also cause throat warts. Recurrent respiratory papillomatosis is a rare disease caused by HPV infection that causes warts to grow in a person’s airways.
Also, this disease can cause voice changes and hoarseness, chronic coughs and breathing problems in people, and the most common way to treat recurrent respiratory papillomatosis or (RRP) is surgery for warts. Although the warts that develop due to this disease are classified as benign, HPV can still cause throat cancer.
HPV can be prevented with the vaccine
According to the American National Cancer Institute, Gardasil 9 vaccine is the most effective among all vaccines and can protect against 9 types (two low-risk and 7 high-risk) of this virus, including those that cause genital warts and cervical cancer. and other HPV-related cancers. In our country, the Papillogard vaccine has been produced for public use, which is resistant to HPV types 16 and 18, which lead to cervical cancer.
At a young age, the HPV vaccine is more effective
Guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that children receive the HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12, but it can also be given at age 9. According to researchers, if people receive the vaccine before starting sexual activities, they will have the highest level of protection against the HPV virus. The vaccine is also recommended for people aged 13 to 26 years who have never been vaccinated or who have not received the full series.
But vaccination is not recommended for people over 26 years old. However, some adults ages 27 to 45 who have not previously been vaccinated may decide to get the HPV vaccine after talking with their doctor about the risk of new HPV infections and the possible benefits of vaccination. Vaccination is less beneficial in this age range because most adults have already been exposed to HPV when they start having sex.
Another important point is that this vaccine is approved regardless of gender and everyone can receive it. Men, like women, are exposed to all types of cancers of the mouth and throat, genitals and anus, and getting vaccinated can help reduce the transmission of this virus.
The HPV vaccine is safe and harmless
Studies conducted on children in 2019 show that the Gardasil 9 vaccine is safe for people in addition to being highly effective. The side effects that have been observed due to the injection of this vaccine are very mild and only include pain at the injection site and fainting. In fact, the benefits of this vaccine are much more than its minor risks.
Women can use the HPV test
If you are a woman and the thought that you may have been exposed to this virus bothers you, you should know that by visiting women’s medical clinics, you can perform an HPV test and Pap smear test. But if you’re a man, there’s only one rectal Pap test available, which the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t recommend even if you don’t have symptoms.
So, unfortunately, we have to say that there is still no test to detect this virus in the body of men, unless you have symptoms of genital warts, in which case it is better to seek help from a doctor. Currently, there is no test to detect HPV in the mouth or throat.
All of us may be infected with HPV during our lifetime. But the good news is that many types of this virus are harmless to us and most of the time, the immune system destroys them without any help or treatment. However, the more we know about HPV prevention and testing, the better our chances of not getting it. Also, by getting HPV vaccine, we can protect our body against this virus.
In the end, it is emphasized again that you should perform your medical tests periodically and regularly so that you can start the treatment process as soon as possible if any symptoms appear.