HPV Virus & Anogenital Warts

The HPV virus stands for the human papillomavirus. It is not just one virus, but a family of over 100 strains of the virus, around 40 of which can cause anogenital warts, and a small minority that can be known to cause some cancers.

Contagion of HPV

While many strains of the HPV virus is highly contagious such as the anogenital strain, there are also many that are non contagious. For example, the small and flat warts that some strains of the papillomavirus can cause on the surface of the skin are extremely common and cannot be passed on merely through skin to skin contact. These warts do not affect the health of the sufferer in anyway, though many people do opt to have them frozen off just for aesthetic purposes.

The various strains of the HPV virus that cause anogenital warts, however, are extremely contagious. Sexual intercourse with a partner with the virus will usually lead to infection, though the symptoms of anogenital warts are not always experienced. It is important to note that even if you use protection such as condoms during intercourse, it is still possible to contract the virus. This is because the skin around the genitals is not covered by the protective layer of the condom, and thus skin to skin contact is still made. Therefore if you think you have anogenital warts it is essential to get the infection treated as soon as possible if you are planning on having sexual contact with a partner in order to prevent the chances of passing the virus on.

Symptoms of the HPV virus

Many of the strains of HPV do not have any symptoms at all. The strains that can lead to anogenital warts have obvious symptoms of small, sometimes raised and red, warts in the infected area. Sometimes though, even the anogenital strain of the infection does not have any symptoms, and can remain dormant for as long as year.

Symptoms of the HPV virus known to cause to the development of cancers in the cervix, throat and lungs are not as easily identifiable, and the cervical smear test is the only way to identify HPV cells in the cervix.

How to prevent the HPV virus

Like any viruses, the HPV virus can be quite difficult to completely prevent. The use of condoms during sexual intercourse will help to prevent the contraction of the strains that cause anogenital warts, but it is not a 100% preventative method.

In recent years, a vaccination has been developed to help prevent the development of dangerous strains of HPV. Currently, there are two different vaccines available; Gardasil and Cervarix. The success of these vaccines is yet to be determined, however, and it is noted that in females, once sexually active, the vaccine is significantly less likely to reduce the likelihood of cervical cancer and genital warts caused by the HPV virus. Microbiocides have also been noted to have a potentially preventative effect on the development of the virus if applied to the genital areas before sex. Current research is being conducted to understand if there is a connection between lubricants that include the agent carrageenan and the reduction of the presence and infection of the HPV virus.

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