What You Need to Know About Human Papillomavirus Now

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a very common infection contracted from skin contact and from vaginal, anal or oral sex with someone who has the virus. The infected person may not even show signs or experience any symptoms, in fact, symptoms could take years to show after HPV has been contracted.

The most important thing you need to know about Human Papillomavirus is that some types of HPV do not go away and can cause genital warts or lead to cervical cancer or cancer of the anus or penis.

Note: Genital warts and cancers are not caused by the same types of HPV. Also, you can not get HPV from a toilet seat, swimming pools or from an infected person’s blood.

HPV and Cancer

HPV can cause cervical cancer as well as cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis or anus and cancer in the back of the throat, base of the tongue and tonsils.

Testing for HPV in Women

Although HPV causes cervical cell changes, an HPV test can only check for the virus. An HPV test is performed together with a pap test which tests for the cervical cell changes. Currently there are no tests available for men.

How Can HPV Be Avoided and Prevented?

THERE IS NO CURE. To decrease your chances of contracting HPV you should:

  • Limit the number of sexual partners
  • Opt to be in a mutually monogamous relationship
  • Go for cervical cancer screenings every 3 or 5 years depending on age and prior screening status.
  • Get vaccinated for protection against diseases and cancers caused by HPV
  • Take good care of condoms and use them correctly every single time you have sex (note: uncovered areas may become infected)

Prevention is and will ALWAYS be better than treatment.

Who Should Get Vaccinated When?

  • First vaccine: girls and boys aged 9 to 12 years
  • Catch-up vaccines: boys and men up to 21 and girls and women up to 26 years of age, irrespective of sexual orientation
  • Women with compromised immune systems up to age 26

How Can HPV Be Treated?

Some low-risk HPV infections may clear up. However, if an infection does not clear and starts causing problems, treatment is required. Problems include genital warts, cervical changes and cervical cancer.

Genital warts can be treated with prescription medication. Cervical precancer can be treated. The key is to go for routine Pap tests and follow-ups to catch problems before cancer develops.

HPV and Pregnancy

HPV in pregnant women can lead to genital warts or the development of abnormal cell changes on the cervix. Therefore even pregnant women should go for routine cervical cancer screenings. When diagnosed early, some HPV-related precancers and cancers are treatable.

Screening Guidelines for Cervical Cancer

  • Cervical cancer screening should begin at age 21 years.
  • Pap cytology screening is recommended every 3 years for women between the ages of 21 years and 29 years.
  • For women aged 30-65 years, co-testing with cervical cytology screening and HPV testing is preferred and should be performed every 5 years.
  • For women aged 30-65 years, screening with cytology alone every 3 years is recommended.
  • Both liquid-based and conventional methods of Pap cytology are acceptable for screening.
  • In women who have had a total hysterectomy and have never had CIN2 or higher, routine cytology screening and HPV testing should be discontinued and not restarted for any reason.
  • Women who have a history of cervical cancer, have HIV infection, are immunocompromised, or were exposed to diethylstilbestrol in utero should not follow routine screening guidelines.
  • Screening by any modality should be discontinued after age 65 years in women with evidence of adequate negative prior screening results* and no history of CIN2 or higher.

HPV Treatment at Bridge Clinic

At Bridge Clinic’s Medicentre you can make use of gynaecological services which include cervical cancer screenings. If deemed necessary, some patients may be referred for further care.

IMPORTANT: If you are a women trying to conceive within a year, DO NOT get vaccinated for HPV. Contact us for more information on our Fit-for-Pregnancy package that includes vital tests for women planning or trying to conceive.

Get in touch today to book your screening and/or vaccination.

Email: enquiries@thebridgeclinic.com
Call:    01 631 0092 / +234 (0)1 631 0092
Visit:   66 Oduduwa Way, Ikeja GRA

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