Facts About HPV
January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, a great time to learn about human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus responsible for almost all cases of cervical cancer.
At Health Edco, we have a variety of diverse health education resources in our product sections dedicated to sex education and women’s health that deal with the potential consequences of HPV that can be spread through sexual activity.
Read on to learn more about HPV and our educational resources that can be used to teach about the cancers and other possible consequences that can result from a sexually transmitted HPV infection.
What Is HPV?
HPV refers to a group of more than 200 related viruses. Some of these viruses are transmitted through vaginal, anal, or oral sex or through other sexual skin-to-skin contact. Unless they are vaccinated against HPV, nearly all people who are sexually active become infected with HPV, which is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States.
What Health Problems Can Result From HPV Infection?
Usually, an HPV infection resolves without causing any health problems. Most people who are infected with HPV don’t know they are infected and never have any health issues resulting from the infection.
Sexually transmitted HPV falls into two types: low risk and high risk. Low-risk HPV usually doesn’t cause any health problems. Some low-risk types of HPV, however, can cause warts around the genitals or anus. Although not common, warts can also grow on the lips, mouth, tongue, or throat as a result of oral sex. Genital warts generally look like a small bump or group of flesh-colored bumps that may be lumpy, flat, or invisible. They may cause discomfort. An HPV infection cannot be cured, but the warts can be removed by a healthcare professional. If the warts are not removed, they may grow, multiply, or go away on their own. The warts will not become cancerous.
awareness and teach the facts about oral sex and STIs.
About half of all sexually transmitted HPV are high-risk types. If the immune system is unable to control infection with high-risk HPV, the infection may persist over time and develop into an HPV-related cancer.
High-risk types of HPV cause almost all cases of cervical cancer in women. It can take 20 years or even longer after an HPV infection for cervical cancer to develop. For this reason, finding and treating precancerous conditions in the cervix can help prevent cervical cancer. Regular Pap tests and testing for HPV are important tools in cervical cancer prevention. Women should discuss cervical cancer screening and the best screening schedule for them with their healthcare professionals.
lifelike models to highlight the role of cervical cancer screening.
In addition to cervical cancer, HPV can also cause other types of cancer. High-risk types of HPV are responsible for the majority of cases of anal cancer as well as penile cancer in men and vaginal and vulvar cancer in women. In the United States, infection with high-risk types of HPV also causes most cases of oropharyngeal cancer (cancers that occur in the back of the throat, including the tonsils and base of the tongue).
covers HPV and other sexually transmitted infections.
How Can HPV-Related Health Issues Be Prevented?
The HPV vaccine provides protection against the low-risk types of HPV that cause most cases of genital warts and most high-risk types of HPV that can cause HPV-related cancers. It is recommended that girls and boys ages 11 and 12 be vaccinated for HPV, although children as young as 9 can also start HPV vaccination. Vaccination is most effective before young people are exposed to HPV through sexual contact. Vaccination is also recommended up to age 26 for anyone who hasn’t been vaccinated already. Adults between the ages of 27 and 45 can also be vaccinated, but the vaccine is not likely to be as effective. Adults in this age group should talk to their healthcare professional if they have questions about HPV vaccination.
Women should start screening for cervical cancer at age 21 and discuss the best screening schedule for them, including Pap tests and testing for HPV. Women who have received the HPV vaccine should still be screened for cervical cancer.
explains the importance of cervical cancer screening.
People who are sexually active can reduce their risk for sexually transmitted HPV infection by being in a mutually monogamous relationship. No matter what age an individual is, every new sex partner increases the risk for a new HPV infection. Using latex condoms every time you have sex also can reduce the risk of HPV infection, but condom use does not completely eliminate the risk because HPV can affect areas not covered by a condom.
Health Edco has many more educational resources that cover cervical conditions, HPV, and other sexually transmitted infections. To discover our wide variety of innovative teaching materials and models, please visit our product sections dedicated to women’s health and sex education.
The information contained in this newsletter article is not intended to replace the advice of a healthcare professional.
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