Tuesday 17 December 2019

Marla Ahlgrimm | What Is HPV?

Marla Ahlgrimm
HPV, or human papillomavirus, is a sexually transmitted infection. Although it rarely causes significant health problems, a lingering infection can lead to genital warts and, even more alarming, cancer. Keep reading as Marla Ahlgrimm answers a few questions about this uncomfortable subject.

Q: What is HPV?

Marla Ahlgrimm: HPV is a virus. Like HIV and the herpes virus, it is spread through sexual contact. Thankfully, unlike its more alarming counterparts, HPV infection usually clears on its own. It is the most common STD, with nearly 80 million people currently infected.

Q: If I get HPV, will I get cancer?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Most likely not. However, there are certain strains of the virus that can turn into cervical cancer. Further, the same strain can also lead to cancer of the anus, vagina, vulva, or penis. In rare instances, oropharyngeal cancer, which affects the tonsils and tongue, can develop. Most healthy adults to not develop cancer from an HPV infection; this complication is most prevalent in those with compromised immune systems.

Q: How can I avoid an HPV infection?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Children as young as 11 may get vaccinated. However, your best bet of avoiding the virus altogether is to be sexually responsible. This involves abstinence, using latex condoms, and/or having a single sex partner who is also monogamous.

Q: How do I know if I have HPV?

Marla Ahlgrimm: For women, HPV is usually detected during a routine Pap screening. Thankfully, the virus rarely shows symptoms, and the vast majority do not know they are infected. Some people experience genital warts and, in rare cases, they find out they did carry the virus once it has mutated into something more serious.


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