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Aids Hiv Drug Therapy Protects Sex Partners

Effects And Prevention Of Human Pappilomavirus

Imagine you are walking into the doctor's office for the first time since you were a senior in high school. One day you just decided it might be a good idea to get a physical exam. Your name is called so you go into a room and your doctor comes in and performs the exam. When the doctor is done, she tells you that she will call you with the lab results. About a week later you get a phone call from your doctor. You are not too concerned because you consider yourself generally healthy.

But your doctor tells you that she found cancerous lesions on your body during the exam. Stunned, you wonder how this could happen. Then your doctor tells you that you also tested positive for Human papillomavirus. She asks you if you have any idea what HPV is? You think about it for a moment and then tell her that you have no idea.

In all reality, most people would report to their doctor that they have no idea what Human Papillomavirus is. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a disease that is one of the most prevalent sexually transmitted diseases in the United States. It is estimated that 70-80% of all sexually active people will develop HPV at some at some point in their life. But until recently, by way of the media, HPV did not get much attention from the public. Many had not and still have not heard of HPV. Those who know about it have not given this disease much thought or taken it seriously. Recently, television infomercials have been trying to get HPV on the forefront.

There are over 100 types of HPV and 38 are known to be genital. Eighteen of the 38 types have appeared in patients with cervical cancer and are now considered "high risk" (Koutsky, Lee McPartlang and Weaver 2005). Cervical cancer is the second leading cancer-causing death among women. Since HPV is found in most women with cervical cancer, the link between the two is undeniable. This infection has also been found in other cancers as well. Now that HPV has been linked to these cancers, it is even more critical to protect oneself against it.

This disease can affect anyone, but the highest rates are among those who are sexually active and who are between the ages of 18 and 28 years old (Koutsky, Lee, McPartlang, and Weaver, 2005). HPV should be taken very seriously and an effort should be made to emphasize the importance of learning the facts about the disease, how to prevent it, and how to treat it.

The first step in preventing Human Papillomavirus is to become educated on the basic facts about the disease. Learning this information will help one understand why it is a serious disease and why it is important to prevent it. First of all, HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that is contracted through skin-to-skin contact. It is not contracted through bodily fluids, which is a common misconception. This means that condom used during sexual intercourse may not be effective in preventing HPV infection.

The infection persists in the top layers of the skin and also in the mucosal layers of the mouth. Because of this, people who engage in oral Sex are also at risk for HPV (Hafkamp, Manni, and Speel, 2004). Human Papillomavirus is often asymptomatic. But the virus can cause warts on the hands, feet, and genitals. It can also lead to abnormal cell growth and pre-cancerous lesions.

Human Papillomavirus can cause abnormal cervical cell growth that can lead to cervical cancer. HPV has also been found to be a risk factor for other cancers as well. These cancers include those of the head, neck, penis, vulva, and oral cavity evidenced by the percentage of pre-malignant and cancerous lesions that are found on people who test positive for HPV. Studies show that HPV was found in 59% patients with oral cavity cancers, 43% of pharynx cancers, and 33% of larynx cancers. These include pre-cancerous lesions.

he infection has been found to be a risk factor for head and neck cancers independent of usual risk factors such as tobacco and alcohol use (Hafkamp, Manni, and Speel, 2004). Sometimes, HPV does not cause any visible or physical symptoms that one can detect. There are also cases when the symptoms are dormant for many years, resulting in the spread of the disease and associated medical problems. Because of this it is important to take the proper precautionary steps to prevent contact, to prevent spread and seek early intervention.

Since HPV may not produce and signs or symptoms active protection is key in helping spread and prevent HPV. There are several tasks one can do to achieve this. First and foremost, it is always a good idea to get a physical exam at least once every year. Also, there are signs of HPV that can only be detectable through gynecological exams. In addition, early intervention decreases the chance of developing cervical cancer and improves the rate of successfully treating cervical cancer. Along these same lines, encouraging others, especially sexual partners, to be tested for HPV will help stop the spread of HPV.

In a research report done by Koutsky et al, researchers found that women are at a greater risk of developing HPV as a result of having a male partner that has HPV. This is why it is also important for men to be tested as well. Another reason why it is important for men to be tested is because, unlike females, men do not usually participate in physical exams like women do. So men could pass the virus to their partners because they do not see symptoms and therefore do not know they have the infection (Koutsky, et al, 2005).

Proper education of men plays a vital role is stopping the spread from a male to a female. Koutsky, et al (2005) says that, "Men with HPV report significantly more Sex partners than those without HPV. Women with at least 1 new sex partner since their last clinic visit were at increased risk for HPV if their recent partners were sexually promiscuous"(Koutsky et al, 2005). It becomes important for both women and men to get tested as often as they or their partners change sexual partners.

College-aged students are also a concern when it comes to the spread of HPV. As mentioned earlier, the rate of HPV is highest between 18 and 28. These ages are considered college ages (plus a few years post-college). In a study done on college students' knowledge of HPV, it was found that "96.2% of males and 95.4% of females had heard of genital warts, although only 4.2% of males and 11.6% of females knew that HPV caused genital warts" (Allen, Baer, and Braun, 2000). It was found that students were aware of genital warts but not to the fact that genital warts could be caused by HPV.

Furthermore, few actually knew what HPV was, how they could get or pass it, and how HPV was related to causing more serious diseases (Allen, Baer, and Braun, 2000). So as one can see, the limited knowledge of HPV in this age group is correlated to the higher rate of HPV cases. Because of this, educating college students about HPV is one way of helping prevent its spread. There are several ways to do this. First, education at the high school and college level on sexually transmitted diseases, which includes HPV, will bring this infection to the students' attention. Encouragement by local and school health care officials to limit sexual partners and seek regular exams, will target students' and inform them of their possibilities.

Recently, HPV vaccinations have been examined to possible reduce the amount of infections. This idea is being heavily researched as a precautionary step for sexually active Adults. Although under much debate, studies show that getting the HPV vaccination has reduced the number of cervical cancer cases among research participants (Neukermans, Sanders, and Taira, 2004). The vaccine is currently on the market. Right now, it is being decided who should receive the vaccine, when a person should receive the vaccine, and how much of the vaccine is needed in order to stop the progression of the disease.

This is a subject that should be closely watched, especially among sexually active Adults or those who are planning to become sexually active. Preliminary studies showed that receiving the vaccine at age 12 (for girls) significantly reduced the number of HPV cases by approximately 61% (Neukermans, Sanders, and Taira, 2004). Although preliminary, these results are astounding and should be watched closely for future development. It could end up being a routine vaccine that can be used to protect against and lower the rates of cervical cancer cases.

As mentioned above, a vaccine is currently in the market. As of 2006, the Food and Drug Administration approved Gardasil for use by woman and girls between the ages of 9 and 26 (Widdice and Kahn, 2006). Gardasil protects against 2 of the known cervical cancer causing HPV types and 2 types of HPV that cause genital warts (McLemore, 2006). Another vaccine, Cervarix is also showing positive results.

Right now, the vaccine is running through the final stages of research before being submitted to the FDA for approval. Both Gardasil and Cervarix have prevented infection of HPV 16 and HPV 18 (high risk types) 100% of the time. Bachman and Hanna (2006) gave their expert opinion saying that "given the lack of a pharmacological intervention that can eradicate HPV in infected individuals and the prevalence of cervical cancer secondary to HPV infection across the world, the HPV vaccine represents a significant breakthrough in women's health"

Treatment of Human Papillomavirus is limited in the fact that there is no cure for the virus. Treatments are aimed at reducing and eliminated symptoms of HPV such as warts and lesions. It is important to understand that eliminating the symptoms does not eliminate the infection and does not reduce the chances of spreading the infection to others. So the burden lies in proper education, community support and awareness, and lifestyle changes.

The best way of stopping the spread of human papillomavirus falls into two main categories. One is public education and the other is personal protection. In order to stop the spread, active participation in public awareness and promotion of HPV screening must be incorporated into education programs, community health care information documents, and everyday life. It is also important that once people know about HPV that they take steps to protect themselves from the infection. Especially for sexually active Adults, limited sexual partners, routine screening, and informing others about HPV are all ways of reducing the chance that he or she will contract the infection.

Human papillomavirus is a serious sexually transmitted disease with a high rate of infection. Being that it is not a well-known infection, HPV can be more dangerous than other commonly known STDs such as syphilis or HIV/AIDS. Sometimes, HPV produces observable symptoms such as warts or lesions. But more times than not, a person will not know they have HPV unless they are tested by their physician. This is because HPV does not always produce such visible symptoms. Even when a person does not show symptoms and signs, they can still transfer the infection to their partner during sexual activity. HPV can also cause abnormal cell growth that can lead to cancer. Not everyone with HPV will develop cancer or pre-cancerous lesions.

But the highly correlated rates of HPV and certain cancers have linked the two together. HPV has been found to be a risk factor for cervical cell cancer, head and neck cancers, as well as penis, anus, and vulva cancers. A cure for HPV has not been found. Certain drug treatments and therapies can help reduce or eliminate the symptoms. The best way to stop the spread of Human Papillomavirus is by providing adequate information and education to the public. By doing this, the infection is brought to the attention of the community.

This education should include common pathways of infection, ways of protecting oneself from the infection and the roles of sexual activity in the spread of HPV. Also included in community education should be the promotion of regular physical examinations and HPV screening for both men and women. The only way to stop HPV and preventing other serious health problems related to HPV is by getting this vital information to the community.

Each person can help the fight against Human Papillomavirus and the problems it causes. Become educated on the subject by actively seeking any relevant information. Once educated about the problem, take steps to directly protect you and your partners. After securing your safety, spread the word to anyone you know and anyone that will listen. If a chain is started, HPV will be greatly reduced and hopefully eliminated.

Works Cited

Allen, S., Baer, H., Braun, L. (2004). Knowledge of humanpapillomavirus infection among young adult men and women:Implications for health education and research. Journal ofCommunity Health, 12(1), 67-78.Bachmann, G., Bachmann, G. (2006). HPV vaccination with Gardasil: abreakthrough in women's health.. Expert Opinon on BiologicalTherapy, 6(1), 1223-1227.Hafkamp, H., Manni, J., Speel, E. (2004). Role of human papillomavirusin the development of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.Acta Oto Laryngologica, 124(4), 520-526.Kahn, J., Widdice, L. (2006). Using the new hpv vaccine in clinicalpractice. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, 73(10), 929-935.Koutsky, L., Lee, S., McPartlang, T., Weaver, B. (2005). Men'sperceptions and knowledge of human papillomavirus (HPV) infectionand cervical cancer. Journal of American College Health, 53(5), 225-230.McLemore, M (2006). Gardasil: Introducing the new human papillomavirusvaccine. Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, 10(5), 559-560.Neukermans, P., Sanders, G., & Taira, A. (2004). Evaluating humanpapillomavirus vaccination programs. Emerging InfectiousDiseases, 10(11), 1915-1923.By Brandie bond - I am a student at ISU. I enjoy doing just about anything...up for new experiences of life!  

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