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Infections of the Reproductive System: Human Papillomavirus

By HERWriter
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The Illinois Department of Public Health said that human papillomavirus (HPV) is a group of viruses. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said that genital HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases.

About 20 million Americans currently have HPV. WomensHealth.gov added that at least half of all sexually active men and women get genital HPV at some point.

Mayo Clinic wrote that there are more than 100 varieties of human papillomavirus and more than 40 different strains that specifically affect the genital area in both men and women.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said most people with HPV don’t develop symptoms. In 90 percent of cases, the body’s immune system clears HPV naturally within two years. When it can’t, HPV can cause genital warts, cervical cancer and other, less common but serious, cancers.

IDPH said genital warts are usually soft, moist, pink, or flesh-colored swellings. They appear flat or raised, single or multiple, small or large, and sometimes cauliflower shaped. They’re found on the vulva, in or around the vagina or anus, on the cervix, and on the penis, scrotum, groin, or thigh.

The HPV types that cause genital warts aren’t the same as high-risk types that can cause cancers, the CDC said.

The Mayo Clinic said that most cervical cancer is caused by two specific types of genital HPV. Early stages of cervical cancer typically cause no symptoms so it’s important that women get regular Pap tests to detect any precancerous cervical changes.

Genital HPV is contracted through sexual intercourse, anal sex and other skin-to-skin contact in the genital area, said Mayo Clinic.

There’s no cure for HPV, but the CDC reported that genital warts can be removed with medication. Mayo Clinic said surgical procedures include freezing off warts with liquid nitrogen, using electrical current to burn off warts, and surgical removal or laser surgery.

The NIAID warned that the virus is still present in the body, so unfortunately warts can return.

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EmpowHER Guest

While Gardasil was initially only approved by the FDA for girls and while the recommended age for vaccination is 11 or 12 years of age, it was never limited to those ages. Gardasil is available and always has been for girls up to the age of 26. The FDA initially only approved the vaccination for boys until last year when it changed that to recommended and it includes this same age range, up to age 26. Canada has increased its Gardasil coverage up to age 45 which for women who have been in monogomous relationships all their lives only to find themselves divorced or widowed leaves them no opportunity for protection against HPV in the US. I believe it should be available for all ages and allow the decision to be made between the patient and her doctor as to whether or not she should receive the series of shots, three in all. Merck also has a patient assistance program for those having financial difficulties obtaining the vaccine.

February 19, 2012 - 12:24pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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