HPV (human papilloma virus) is a common sexually transmitted infection. A feature of the virus is its ability for many years not to manifest, but in the end there may be various neoplasms, both benign and malignant.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer noted that the number of patients with cervical cancer in recent years has increased significantly, and one of the reasons for this may be HPV.
What is this virus? When infected, epithelial cells are affected, which begin to divide, resulting in the appearance of papilloma (papillary growths). Physicians know more than 100 types of HPV, but there are 14 types of high oncogenic risk, they lead to the development of cervical cancer and some other types of cancer. It should be noted that men infected with certain highly-co-genic types of the virus are at high risk of developing genital cancers. Low-cancerous types of the virus provoke the growth of warts, genital warts, and also benign formations in the airways.
With the development of HPV papillomas can appear on mucous membranes, skin, internal organs, genitals.
Transmission of the virus occurs sexually, during oral-genital, anal sex. According to epidemiologists from the University of Washington, the greatest number of types of the virus enters the body in the first years of sexual activity, but ultimately up to 90% of people face this unpleasant disease.
In Einstein's College, a group of epidemiologists also examined HPV and found out that in 91% of cases the body copes with the infection itself, without any special treatment - our immune system is able to suppress most types of the papilloma virus. Also, specialists note that immunity to the disease does not develop, therefore, repeated cases of HPV infection are not ruled out. A woman's body is less vulnerable to infection with age, while men are at risk for a lifetime.
An international team of researchers found that 30 to 70% of men are HPV-infected, they are the source of infection, both among women and men. The immune system of men copes with the virus longer, in the opinion of scientists it is due to the sexual behavior of men.
The danger of HPV (highly oncogenic types) is that the virus provokes the growth of cancerous tumors (cervix, rectum, vagina, penis). When a virus is infected, there is usually no malfunction in the menstrual cycle or infertility. Because of hormonal leaps (for example, in pregnant women), the growth of warts on the external genitalia can accelerate, but the virus does not affect the ability to conceive or bear.
The fact that HPV is closely related to the development of cervical cancer, scientists have no doubt, because in almost 100% of cases, HPV is detected in patients (one of many types).
It should be noted that the cancer develops if the virus is in the body for a long time - in relatively healthy women, the virus provokes tumor growth on average for 15-20 years, in HIV-infected patients - for 5-10 years.
The virus in the body passes several stages before the development of malignant formation begins - during this period, as a rule, the virus is detected and appropriate treatment is prescribed.
In 95% of cases, HPV can get rid of (most often by removing the affected areas), but it is always worth remembering the risk of re-infection.
Read also: Vaccination against human papillomavirus (HPV)
Today, there are various tests to detect HPV in the body, but up to the age of 25 there is a high probability of detecting a virus with which the immune system can cope on its own, therefore doctors recommend to take the test after 25 years, except for young girls under 18 years of age who have an active sex life.