About 79 million Americans have this infection and are currently infected with Human papillomavirus (HPV). Roughly 14 million people become newly infected every year. It is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States and worldwide. At least 80% of sexually active women will have been infected by age 50.
-What is this infection?
HPV can be passed by having vaginal, anal or oral sex with someone who has the virus, even if you have sex with only one person. It is also reported that you can also develop symptoms months or years after you have sex with someone infected making it difficult to determine when you were infected.
While many people think the HPV is mostly a problem to young adults or teens, it can infect men and women at any age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 45% of women ages 14 to 19 were infected, 27% of women ages 20-24 were infected, and 19% of women ages 50 to 59 were infected.
Most infections with HPV causes no symptoms, but persistent genital HPV infections can cause cancer in women. There are more than 100 different types of HPV; some types can cause health problems such as genital warts and cancers. A common genital disease is being infected with type 6 and 11 causing genital warts. They usually appear as small bumps or a group of bumps, which can be small or large, raised or flat, or shaped like a cauliflower.
HPV can also cause other types of anogenital cancer and head and neck cancers in both men and women. This virus has a strong link with cervical cancer in women, which the fourth most common cancer in women, with an estimated 266,000 deaths and 528,000 new cases in 2012. Types 16 and 18 are responsible for about 70% of all cervical cancers cases worldwide. More than 11,000 women and 9,300 men are affected by cancers caused by HPV.
Other cancers caused by the virus are cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis or anus. It can also cause oropharyngeal cancer, the cancer in back of the throat.
-How is there a cure for HPV?
No, there is no cure. HPV usually clears or lays dominant in your body. Some studies estimate that 50 percent of those infected will clear the virus within eight months, while 90 percent will be cured within two years. It’s only when your body can’t fight off the persistent HPV virus that it can possible lead to cancer.
What can you do to help your body fight off the virus? Avoid smoking, stop taking oral contraceptives, and the best defense is to fight it off naturally. Load up on vitamin C, vitamin B (especially folic acid and B12), and vitamin E. Make sure you are eating healthy and staying active.
Be sure to consult with your doctor. For women, it is recommended to do Pap test regularly and to ask for an analysis looks for genetic material, or DNA, of HPV within the body’s cells. There is a HPV test available for women, but no HPV test yet to detect the virus in men.
The only way to prevent becoming infected is to abstain from sex or get vaccinated. There are three vaccines that are available to girls as young as nine to adults up to age 26. You can also limit the number of sexual partners you have and choose partners who had few or no sexual partners. While a long term monogamous relationship is recommended, remember that most people are unaware that they are infected.