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Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

What is Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)?

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a virus which can affect any parts of the skin and mucous. It is a double-stranded non-enveloped deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) virus. There are about 100 types of HPV strains and usually, about 40 types cause cancers or warts. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is categorized according to numbers like HPV 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, 58 and others. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is further divided into high risk and low-risk Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).

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What is the incidence of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)?

HPV is a virus that affects a lot of people in this world. HPV was previously assumed to only affect women but in recent studies where both men and women who are HPV negative and then they are retested for HPV after a month.

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How is the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) transmitted?

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is transmitted via skin to skin contact and it is easier to transmit as compared to HIV. Although many people will claim that HPV is a sexually transmitted disease, many incidences have proven that HPV can also be transmitted through touch.

It is frightening as HPV is now more common than ever before. Usually, HPV  is transmitted via touch or contact, but a brief skin to skin contact does not easily transmit HPV. HPV spreads easily if there is a breakage in the skin barrier.

 

Read more about the HPV which would not go away: coming soon!

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What are the symptoms of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)?

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) can be present with or without symptoms. Like I have stated above, 80 per cent of the world’s population may already be infected with Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) however most have no obvious symptoms because of their antibodies which protects and eliminates the virus spontaneously.

 

Mostly 80 to 90 per cent of people infected with Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) can be spontaneously be cured and the other 10-20 per cent cannot be spontaneously cured. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) may cause warts, oral, anal, vulva, cervical and penile cancers. Warts may look like a cauliflower on the skin and some can look like multiple grapes on the skin. Cancers are rather tricky to identified they need to be biopsied to determine the cells.

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How can I get tested for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)?

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) may seem like a complex virus but overall it is easy to detect this virus. This virus has DNA and we use to test to look for the DNA of this virus. HPV PCR testing is important because it identifies the type of HPV. Like I have mentioned, HPV has low and high-risk types, the only way to determine the type is by doing this PCR (DNA) test.

 

This is a simple analogy: My surname is Gui, my father is Mr Gui, my brother is Mr Gui. If we took samples from each person and do not label the sample, how can we find out which sample belongs to which person?  A DNA test we will be able to identify which sample belongs to which Mr Gui.

 

It is the same with HPV. We do not know what type of HPV exist, therefore with DNA test, we are able to identify the type of HPV which are named according to numbers.

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What should I do if I have been tested for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)?

The first and foremost issue is to prevent HPV if you have been tested positive for HPV.  You should get your partner or partners tested for HPV and ensure safe protected sex with your potential next partner.

Get yourself vaccinated against HPV. In the current market, we have HPV vaccines for women only and also unisex vaccines (both men and women). These are a few examples:

  1. Cervarix

  2. Gardasil 4 in 1

  3. Gardasil 9 in 1

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How early can I start HPV vaccination?

Medicine is everchanging and always newer clinical studies and evidence will crop up. Take for example the HPV vaccine. HPV vaccines were recommended to children above 12 years old because the study population criteria inclusion were children above the age of 12 years old. A few years later a newer study was conducted which shows that children at 9 years old can also be safely vaccinated.
 

As newer studies are continuously improved and updated, it is possible that the HPV vaccine can be given even in babies but that is after the safety profile has been established.

 

Conclusion:

Children above the age of 9 years old are suitable for HPV vaccination and they only require 2 shots of the HPV vaccine as compared to adults who require 3 shots of the HPV vaccine.

Can I still be vaccinated for HPV (Gardasil) even if I am above 45 years old?

Health care providers always harp on the age most suitable for HPV Vaccination which is before 26 years old. What happens if a person is more than 26 years old or 45 years old?

The old assumption that men above the age of 26 years old and women above the age of 45 years old are not suitable to receive the HPV vaccine must be revised. I believe that everyone should get this vaccine regardless of the age group as long that they are above 9 years old.

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Can I be vaccinated even I am infected with HPV?

Gardasil-9 protects against the 9 most common types of HPV encountered and this also means that the possibility of a person getting infected by all HPV types (6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58 provided by the vaccine) is unlikely. If the person is infected with HPV 16 and 45; would it make perfect sense to try to prevent the other types of HPV which the person has not acquired yet?

Newer studies have shown that people who have been infected with HPV also indirectly get cured with the HPV vaccine

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Can Human Papilloma Virus be prevented?

The incidence of HPV in the pre-vaccination era was high and in the post-vaccination has considerably reduced the rates of HPV in the human population. HPV vaccines were not in existence until November 2001 when it was first licensed for use in humans. The rates of HPV was high and after the commencement of HPV vaccination, we started seeing a reduction in the rates of HPV infections. 

Ignorance is not a sin but not taking action against ignorance is!

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Can the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) be treated?

No. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) cannot be treated. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) can only be destroyed by your own antibody. There has been data showing that the HPV vaccine does not treat the infected but helps to boost the immune system against HPV and in the process it naturally removes or kills the virus.
 

In cases where HPV has already become cancer, there are studies supporting the HPV vaccine which can reduce the grade of cervical cancer caused by HPV from CIN I to an almost normal cervix.

Do not ignore the threat! Take the vaccine!

How is the HPV vaccine given?

HPV vaccine should be administered intramuscularly in the deltoid region of the upper arm or in the higher anterolateral area of the thigh.

  • For individuals 9 through 14 years of age, it can be administered using a 2-dose or 3-dose schedule. For the 2-dose schedule, the second dose should be administered 6–12 months after the first dose. If the second dose is administered less than 5 months after the first dose, a third dose should be given at least 4 months after the second dose. For the 3-dose schedule, HPV vaccine should be administered at 0, 2 months, and 6 months.

  • For individuals 15 through 45 years of age, it is administered using a 3-dose schedule at 0, 2 months, and 6 months.

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