Is there a vaccine against the virus?
Today there are two vaccines, one meant for girls and young women and the other is meant for older women. Both vaccines provide protection from 4 species of the virus. It is important to perform a test to check if the virus exists before the vaccine
Can men also be infected?
Yes, men can be infected and infect others. Men might develop warts on testicles and penis. In more severe cases, the virus can cause cancer in the area of the mouth and throat (oropharyngeal).
What is a HPV test?
An HPV test is a simple test performed by collecting cells from the cervical smear. This test is performed by a gynecologist. The collected cells are sent to a laboratory and by amplification of the DNA, the existence of the problematic and dangerous species is checked. The test is very exact and shows which of the subtypes exists in the patient's body.
Then the doctor decides upon the method of treatment which can range from regular observations to removal of the infected cells. A timely test can prevent the development of pre-cancerous cells, and eventually cancer. The development of cervical cancer can happen quickly, but can also take years! in most cases, the development is relatively slow and enables a timely discovery of the cancerous cells and their treatment. Due to the fact that the symptoms appear at a late stage of the development of cancer, the regular test is very important.
What is HPV?
HPV is the Human Papilloma Virus. This virus is part of the Papova virus group. Viruses from this group can cause various damages in the body, from warts to cancer. It develops in the epithelium cells of the skin and of the mucosa (respiratory air ways and sexual tubes). The HPV has more then a 100 different appearances, which vary in effect from causing warts to causing cancer. About 30 species out of them can damage the female sexual system and 18 of them can cause cancer. Almost 100% of the cases of cervical cancer had HPV infection.
What are my chances of catching this virus?
More then 70% of the sexually active women and men catch various species of the virus at some point in their lives. Most of them only suffer from warts, or have no effect al all. The body's immune system will be rid of the virus in most cases.
Which species are dangerous?
The species related to cancer are first and foremost 16, 18 and 45, 33, 31, 52, 58.
In which parts of the world was the virus detected?
HPV is widespread in many countries, in Israel too.
Once I’m infected, is there a cure?
No. like many viruses, the recovery is by the body’s immunity system. In most cases, the body has the ability to fight the virus on its own. For some the virus might cause warts, or disease.
How does the infection occur?
There are three common ways to catch the virus:
1. Wounded skin coming in contact with the virus.
2. Having sexual intercourse with an infected individual.
3. A fetus can be infected if his mother is infected.
What could the HPV virus cause?
- Warts on the skin.
- Benign and malignant tumors in the head and neck or the female sex tract.
- Warts in the sex and urine tubes.
- Changes in the cells of the female sexual tubes which can result in cancerous tumors in the vagina, vulva, rectum.
Does using a condom and other contraceptive methods prevent infection?
The virus is transmitted by contact, thus using a condom provides only partial protection. Women using contraception pills tend not to use a condom and their chances of being infected are higher!
What is advised in order to be protected against HPV?
In recent years, vaccines have been developed which are meant to prevent infection. The vaccines are meant mostly for young women and are given to teenagers in more and more countries in school years- boys and girls. The aim in some countries, like Britain, the USA and many more is to create a "herd immunity". Vaccinating most o ir all of the population if possible, in order to wipe out the virus intirely.
The vaccines are only meant to protect from the most dangerous species but they do not completely prevent the infection! It is important for you to consult your gynecologist about taking the vaccine. Regular observation tests will still be needed, to make sure that an infection has'nt occured before, or after the vaccinaiton.