Human papillomavirus is the most common infection in the world.
According to researchers, more than 90% of people around the world are infected with one type of HPV or another. There are currently more than 70 varieties of human papillomavirus.
The virus infects the skin and mucous membranes: various warts, papillomas and condylomas form on them. The human papillomavirus lives in human blood and only manifests itself at a certain time. But you only have to weaken the immune system, as growth occurs on the skin and / or the mucous membranes. This explains the rather long incubation period: from several weeks to several tens of years.
What is it?
Human papillomavirus (HPV) causes changes in tissue growth. It causes various skin diseases and mucosal lesions. Modern medicine identifies more than a hundred types of the virus.
Papilloma is a benign tumor that grows on the surface of the skin and looks like a small nipple. The size of the papillomas can be one to two cm. Place of appearance: membrane of the oral cavity, nose, throat, vocal cords; can form on the bladder and elsewhere.
Depending on the type of virus, the diseases are also different: warts are caused by human papillomavirus types 2 and 4, flat warts - by viruses of types 3 and 10, genital warts - types 6 and 11. . . Some types of the virus (16, 18, 31, 33, 35) cause cervical dysplasia or a favorable background for developing cervical cancer. The human papillomavirus is transmitted through contact and household routes and remains in the skin and mucous membranes.
The human papillomavirus is divided into two groups -high and low risk. The low risk group includes types of the virus (mainly 6 and 11) that cause genital warts. The high risk group includes the 16th, 18th, 31st, 33rd, and 35th virus types, which cause cervical dysplasia and increase the risk of cervical cancer.
How can you get infected?
The source of infection is a sick person or a virus carrier, ie HPV is only transmitted from person to person.
There are three known transmission routes for this infection:
- Contact household (through touch);
- sexual (genital, anal, oral-genital);
- when giving birth from mother to child.
HPV affects the skin and mucous membranes: various warts, papillomas and condylomas form on them.
An interesting fact is that different types of HPV can manifest themselves differently, causing a person to develop benign or malignant tumors. Human papilloma is also a virus that can infect the skin and mucous membranes, or may not recognize itself until the person carrying the infection decreases.
According to world statistics, the likelihood of contracting this disease increases many times over among the following categories of citizens:
- pregnant women;
- patients who often suffer from various diseases;
- People with an unconventional orientation;
- male or female representatives who have had sexually transmitted diseases;
- people who are overly active;
- people with immune system disorders;
- sexual partners of people who have been found to have HPV or have an active form of the disease;
- women with various diseases of the cervix.
All representatives of these categories must be examined for papillomatosis. It is also recommended that you get tested on people who are believers in free sexual relationships, who have many sexual partners, or who change them frequently. Even an unprotected act can cause infection. Therefore, experts advise you to take preventive measures against this disease.
Human papillomavirus: incubation period
Normally, the incubation period for an infection with human papillomavirus is long: from half a month to several years. The infection with the human papillomavirus is characterized by a latent course. A person can become infected with different types of papillomavirus at the same time. Under the influence of various factors, the virus is activated, its reproduction increases, and the disease enters the stage of clinical manifestations.
In most cases (up to 90%) self-healing occurs within 6 to 12 months, in other cases there is a longer chronically recurring course with possible malignancy of the process (depending on the type of virus).
HPV classification and symptoms
The clinical symptoms of human papillomavirus vary widely - some species are practically absent, and many are manifested by the growth of papillomas in different parts of the body.
There are several types of similar skin growths - they serve as the basis for classifying HPV.
Their growth is caused by the human papillomavirus type 2. The growths themselves are characterized by their coarseness, the presence of a stratum corneum and sizes from 1 mm. Very often such growths are not isolated, but represent a localized "merged" zone. Simple (they are also called vulgar) papillomas can be on the palms of the hands and between the fingers, in children they are recognized on the knees.
Caused by the human papillomavirus types 3 and 10, they are identical in color to the skin and are therefore the least noticeable. In addition to the appearance of neoplasms, itching, hyperemia (redness) of the skin and pain are characteristic of the flat appearance of papillomas.
Plantar papillomas look like a whitish, shiny spot at the beginning of their development. Then it "rises" a little above the level of the skin surface. Multiple mosaic neoplasms can appear around the underlying papilloma. Such neoplasms complicate the patient's life - it is difficult for him to walk, it is almost impossible to choose comfortable shoes.
This type of neoplasm is inherent in women over the age of 50 and initially appears in the form of small yellowish bumps. Over time, these bumps grow and they turn into a collection of numerous "threads".
The formations resemble cauliflower or cockscomb. The most common condylomas are on the foreskin, head of the penis, near the urethra, around the anus, on the labia minora, on the vaginal mucosa, on the cervix, in the corners of the mouth, and in the mouth of the urethra.
Looks like a single formation exclusively in the top layer of the epidermis (more often on the head). A lesion of 5 to 50 mm looks like a growing stratum corneum, sometimes covered with crusts. It is called HPV type 16. Formations tend to degenerate into squamous cell carcinoma.
Blooming papillomatosis in the oral cavity also externally resembles cauliflower: white plaques on the oral mucosa. Occurs in the elderly. Laryngeal papillomatosis can fall into the trachea, bronchi, and lung tissue and occurs in children and adults. Signs of larynx papillomatosis are dysphonia (difficulty speaking) and aphonia (inability to speak), hoarseness, and shortness of breath. Cancer can occur when the oropharynx is affected by HPV.
Human papillomavirus in men
Human papillomavirus infection in men can occur without symptoms. It is worth noting that in the main risk group, men who frequently switch sexual partners have unprotected sex.
Pathological formations are localized in the following places:
- on the head and shaft of the penis;
- on the skin of the scrotum;
- in the crotch area;
- on the mucous membrane.
A virus of this type in men can take the form of high carcinogenicity. This leads to genital cancer. However, if you start treatment on time, the risk of oncogenic diseases will be minimized. Warts caused by the HPV virus are removed surgically or with special chemical solutions. Antiviral drugs are prescribed along the way. Therefore, in the early stages of the development of this type of disease in men, you can get rid of it completely.
Human papillomavirus in women
As mentioned earlier, women between the ages of 20 and 45 are most susceptible to the virus. However, it should be noted here that the main risk group is those who frequently switch sexual partners and have unprotected sex.
This type of infection in women is divided into the following groups:
- high oncogenicity;
- low oncogenicity;
- non-oncogenic type.
The most dangerous for women's health is infection with a high type of carcinogenicity. Almost always it leads to an oncological disease - a malignant tumor, cervical cancer. The risk of such a development of pathology is 90%. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that the disease does not show symptoms in the early stages of development. Occasionally, small warts may appear on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.
In a type of infection with high oncogenicity, condylomas are formed. These are wart-like formations, but with uneven edges. Such formations can appear in the vagina, anus and perineum. Sometimes condylomas can take the form of bubbles with fluid that, over time, burst and give off an unpleasant odor.
High levels of HPV infection can also cause vaginal and vulvar cancer. In rarer clinical cases, nasopharyngeal cancer is possible. It is worth noting that it is almost impossible to completely cure the high form of HPV oncogenicity.
The risk of infection with the human papillomavirus
The properties of the papillomatosis virus are such that it settles either in the skin or in the mucous membrane of various organs: reproductive organs (both men and women), esophagus, bronchi, oral cavity, rectum. It can also be localized in the conjunctiva of the eyes.
Each virus strain has its own "favorite" localization. The most dangerous types 16 and 18 immediately "go" to the genitals, and the low oncogenic viruses 6 and 11 infect the vulva and perineum, causing genital warts to develop there. The same strains can cause papillomatosis in a child's airways if naturally born to a mother with genital warts.
Symptomatic illness does not always occur after an infection. On the contrary, the disease is usually imperceptible and does not lead to serious consequences.
The most dangerous complications of human papillomavirus infection are:
- Cervical cancer. It occurs in women as a result of infection with human papillomavirus types 16 or 18. It has been proven that without papillomavirus, this disease does not occur. And if they used to talk about developing cervical cancer from erosion or ectropion, now it is being revised and denied.
- rectal carcinoma. In contrast to the first illness, it can have other causes;
- throat cancer. It is also caused by a type 16 virus;
- lung cancer that can occur when infected with 16, 18, 11, 2, 6, 30 types of viruses;
- respiratory failure that develops with the growth of malignant papillomas in the airways (larynx, windpipe);
- Contact bleeding from genital warts. If they are on the external genitals, perineum, or vagina, they are provoked by sex. In other locations (in the nose, in the mouth) bleeding can be caused, which mechanically injures you with other objects.
According to official sources, nearly half a million (470, 000) new cases of cervical cancer caused by this virus are recorded worldwide each year. Every year 233, 000 women die from this disease. This oncological disease is in 2nd place for all cancer pathologies in gynecology (1st for breast cancer) and 5th for all causes of death in women. Most often women under 40 die from cervical cancer.
HPV and pregnancy
The human papillomavirus does not affect the reproductive function, that is, the virus does not prevent a woman from having a child.
If an infection with the human papillomavirus was detected during pregnancy:
- The first thing you need to do is find a good gynecologist and be monitored until delivery,
- The most important thing is what manifestations of infection a woman has. The doctor's tactics depend on it,
- the virus does not affect the fetus in any way!
- Warts and papillomas can be removed after birth,
- Minimum of medication (only if necessary) during pregnancy,
- During childbirth, the baby can become infected by going through the birth canal.
- If there are pronounced changes in the cervix, a pregnant woman can be offered a caesarean section,
- in the absence of manifestations - birth in a natural way.
In general, a caesarean section is rarely performed if you have an HPV infection. And the manifestations of infection in children as a result are also extremely rare or insignificant.
In recent years, medicine has made significant advances in the diagnosis of PVI. This became possible thanks to the systematization of data on HPV and related diseases, the study of all existing routes of infection, many mechanisms of the pathogenesis of the infectious process and the state of the immune system, as well as possible morphological changes.
There are different ways of diagnosing an infection with the human papillomavirus. In this case, experts adhere to generally accepted algorithms:
- Sexually active women and men are subject to mandatory HPV testing.
- HIV-infected patients and those with symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases should also be evaluated.
- People with proven risk factors for PVI.
- Patients with genital papillomas in the oral cavity and in the anogenital area.
- patients with various diseases of the cervix.
- Couples planning a pregnancy.
The most important diagnostic methods for PVI:
- Visual inspection of lesions.
- Using a magnifying glass and a colposcope.
- Cytological research methods.
- Molecular biological techniques.
- Histological (pathomorphological) examination.
All patients tested for the presence of PVI will be tested for syphilis, hepatitis, and HIV at the same time. Smears are taken for bacterioscopic examination of the discharge from the urethra, vagina and cervix, as well as for PCR and bacteriological examination for the presence of PVI genitourinary infections.
The detection of papillomavirus is usually uncomplicated: the infection is detected during routine examinations by a gynecologist or dermatologist. A targeted biopsy is performed if symptoms appear. If flat warts are detected in the anogenetic range in a patient to prevent the development of malignancies, serotypes of the human papillomavirus are tested with an oncogenic marker.
How is the human papillomavirus treated?
Methods for the radical treatment of human papillomavirus infection in men or women have not yet been developed. All existing programs aim to inactivate the pathogen and strengthen antiviral immunity. Warts, condylomas, and dysplasias are removed using minimally invasive methods. Surgical excision, conization, and removal of the cervix are rarely practiced, and especially when there is a reasonable suspicion of oncopathology.
Destructive methods: surgical removal, curettage, electrosurgery, cryodestruction, laser surgery.
- If malignancy is suspected, surgical treatment is carried out. It is not used that often because removing the wart can cause profuse bleeding to open up. During this manipulation, the excised wart is sent for a biopsy and the wound is stitched.
- Curettage - removing a wart with a curette, d. H. by scraping. Then electrocoagulation is performed and a dry bandage is placed on the wound.
- Electrosurgery is used to remove small warts. But relapses are also possible in this case. This method can also be used for large warts. Before you start them, you need to soak them or insert an electrode into the thickness of the wart to make the separation between cells less pronounced.
- The cryodestruction is carried out with liquid nitrogen.
- Laser surgery currently occupies a leading position in surgical treatment, ie in addition to destruction, hemostasis is carried out in parallel. In addition to the fact that the laser vaporizes the wart, it also has a direct toxic effect on HPV, so this method of treatment is primarily important in the choice of treatment for cervical intraepithelial neoplasms, it also dominates in the treatment of genital wartspregnant women (even in the latter stages of development).
Cytostatics and chemical preparations with a cauterizing effect are also used.
Immunotherapy - This method of treatment is only used in combination with other methods, as it has no specific effect, but only activates the components of the immune system.
Combination treatments include a combination of the above.
TOP 10 myths about the human papilloma virus
HPV myths are more than enough. We would like to share with you the most common. So what people say about papillomavirus:
- There is no reliable data on whether vaccination against HPV will help, so you cannot get vaccinated. Answer: Yes, there are actually more than 100 papillomaviruses and there really is no data that vaccination would protect against all of them. However, vaccination for 5 years will protect you from the most aggressive strains. The vast majority of recipients did not have any side effects from the vaccine, so we think it is better to get vaccinated.
- If you develop genital warts, it will lead to cervical cancer. Answer: It is not known how many sleepless nights this myth caused. In fact, things aren't quite that bleak. Both warts and cervical cancer are caused by the human papillomavirus. But with completely different types of it. So genital problems may not have anything to do with cancer.
- It is more effective to have a swab than to get vaccinated against HPV. Answer: A smear is a screening test to see if you have mutated precancerous lesions on your cervix. And vaccination is designed precisely in such a way that antibodies are formed in the body that protect the cells from mutation when the virus enters. So it is definitely better not to skimp on vaccinations than to wait for the cells to become cancerous.
- Older women do not need to be tested for HPV. Answer: One in four cases of cervical cancer and 41% of all deaths occur in women aged 65 and over. Regular screening is important as HPV can reappear after many years of latency. It is advisable to perform the analysis every three years for women aged 21 to 29 years and every 3 to 5 years with an interval of 30 to 65 years.
- If there are no warts and a smear revealed virus, then I have cervical cancer. Answer: Do not jump to conclusions. Viruses can be in the human body for a long time, but this does not mean pre-cancerous. The appearance of these viruses in the analyzes suggests that their number has increased, and this is due to a decrease in general immunityTherefore, on the basis of such an analysis result, first of all, attention should be paid to the state of immunity, and it is better to conduct treatment aimed at maintaining it.
- All human papillomaviruses cause cancer. Answer: Many types of HPV do not cause problems. HPV infections usually go away on their own a few months after purchase, with around 90% going away within two years. And only a small fraction of infections with certain types of HPV can persist and develop into cancer.
- If you always use a condom, you will not catch any papilloma virus. Answer: A condom is sure to reduce the chances of getting HPV and sexually transmitted diseases. Protected sex is not an absolute guarantee, however, as the papillomavirus is transmitted through all contacts of the mucous membranes. HPV can also be transmitted by touching some toiletries and toiletries. If there are papillomas on the mucous membrane of the lips, the papillomavirus can be transmitted through a kiss. All of this does not replace the need to use condoms.
- HPV can be completely cured. Answer: It is not the virus itself that is suitable for treatment, but the diseases that caused it. You can get rid of genital warts, you can remove warts, you can even cure precancerous lesions of the cervix. But the virus itself unfortunately remains in the human body.
- If you get infected with HPV, it will keep coming back. Truth: not necessary at all. Yes, the doctor will most likely find that smears are strained. However, if you lead a healthy lifestyle, eat right and, as a result, have good immunity, viruses will not manifest themselves. Not at all!
- In a relationship, a diagnosis of HPV means that one partner has cheated on the other. Answer: It was this myth that led many people to tragically wrong conclusions and led many couples to fall apart for neglecting one of the most mysterious aspects of genital HPV - the virus' ability to remain latent. Even if you are with your husband from school, being diagnosed with HPV only means that one of you has contracted a human papillomavirus infection at some point in your life.
HPV prevention is based on the following three techniques:
- Primary, which can be used to identify risk factors, prevent the spread of infections and develop specific vaccines;
- Secondary education, which is based on the examination of the patient and contributes to the detection of the disease in the early stages;
- Tertiary based on preventing relapse in people treated for this infection.
A number of preventive measures are also being taken at the state level to prevent the spread of HPV. This is the desire to improve the well-being of the population, the restriction of video, advertising based on hidden propaganda of the promiscuous sex life, the introduction of programs to support young families.
At the medical level, preventive measures are based on carrying out hygiene and educational work in the population in order to become familiar with the routes of transmission of all types of genital infections, their symptoms, methods of treatment and, above all, barrier methods of contraception against their infection.
The individual preventive measures include:
- Rejection of promiscuous sex;
- compulsory use of a condom during intercourse, although it has been established that HPV can be transmitted through close skin contact;
- regularly visit a doctor for examination;
- maintaining a healthy lifestyle, active sports;
- treats identified reproductive system diseases promptly.
In our day, two types of vaccines have been invented and introduced into medical practice. These drugs are completely harmless to humans because the viruses that make them up are not alive. It is recommended to prescribe them to both women and men aged 9 to 17 years. Women under the age of 26 may take them for prophylactic purposes.