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HPV (Human Papiloma Virus)

 

HPV stands for Human Papilloma Virus and is a common sexually transmitted infection that can affect both men and women. It can be transmitted via genital and skin contact through tiny tears in the skin. There are over 40 different types of HPV that can affect the genital area.  

 

Symptoms  

Four out of five people contract one type of HPV at least once in their lifetime. Different types of HPV can be classified as either low risk or high risk. Low risk HPV can cause minor changes to the cells within a woman’s cervix and even cause genital warts. These types of HPV usually cause no symptoms and generally heal naturally without any treatment. On the other hand, high risk HPV can cause different types of cancer, including cervical cancer. These types of HPV can increase your risk of developing significant cell changes in a woman’s cervix and can progress to cervical cancer if left untreated.      

 

Management   

There has recently been a vaccine developed called Gardasil that helps protect our bodies against two types of high risk HPV which are a primary cause of cervical cancer. The vaccine also protects us against two different types of low risk HPV which are a main cause of genital warts. The HPV vaccine is most effective in young people before they become sexually active. It is important that males also get immunised as they can spread the virus. Currently, the vaccine is provided as part of the National HPV Vaccination Program to girls and boys aged 12 to 13 years. It is given as 3 different injections in the upper arm over 6 months.   In addition to the vaccine, it is important for women to get regular pap tests every two years to detect any abnormal changes or growth in their cervical cells. If you do have any abnormalities, your doctor can easily treat them if they are found early. If these changes remain unfound and untreated, it can increase your risk of developing cervical cancer. It is important to remember that the HPV vaccine does not protect your body against all cervical cancer, therefore, it is important to get regular pap tests to reduce your risk of developing cervical cancer. If you have not had the HPV vaccine, then you should visit your doctor every two years to get a pap test to ensure you do not have any abnormalities within your cervical cells.      

 

Disclaimer  

The content displayed on this webpage is intended for informational purposes and is a guide only. It does not replace or substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.   Information contained on this webpage must be discussed with an appropriate healthcare professional before making any decisions or taking any action based on the content of this webpage.      

 

Sources  

Better Health Channel: http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Human_papilloma_virus_-_immunisation  

 

Cancer Council Australia: http://www.hpvvaccine.org.au/