HPV stands for human papillomavirus. It is the most commonly diagnosed STI (sexually transmitted infection) in the world.1
HPV is a group of over 200 viral genotypes.2 They all may be called HPV but have different characteristics. For instance, only 40+ variations of HPV spread via sexual transmission or contact. Whereas there are 2 genotypes of HPV that actually cause genital warts (soft growth on skin around genitals)3; 14 high risk HPV genotypes, amongst which 2 genotypes (HPV 16 & 18) are related to most HPV-related cancers.3 High risk HPV genotypes can give rise to anal, cervical, oropharyngeal (cancers that develop in the throat, tonsils, or at the back of the tongue), penile, vaginal, and vulvar cancers.2
Having discussed that, there are two kinds of HPV infections:2
These HPV infections don’t trigger any diseases or cancers. They may only cause warts around the mouth, anus, throat and genitals.
High risk HPV infections are more serious as they can cause several (previously mentioned) cancers. High risk HPV, specifically strains 16 & 18 are responsible for 70% of cervical cancers worldwide.4 Besides cervical cancers, other high risk HPV can also lead to anal, penile, vulva and vaginal cancers.5
Did you know that anyone who engages in sexual activity has a significant chance of contracting HPV at least once in their lives? In many cases, it goes unnoticed since the HPV infection usually doesn't exhibit any signs or symptoms.6
When HPV infects an individual, the immune system begins to fight the infection immediately (depending on the type of virus). Also, in most of the cases of HPV infection, even the warts don't develop on the skin.7
Infection caused by different kinds of HPV imparts varied symptoms, which are listed below-
A high risk HPV infection shows no symptoms. Though, sometimes, a prolonged HPV infection can develop precancerous cells at the cervix. These precancerous cells can further lead to some minor symptoms, which can only be diagnosed with a cervical cancer screening test.3 (Precancerous is a term used to describe a medical condition that may further transform into cancer).8
Furthermore, lesions caused by precancerous cells all over the body might cause symptoms such as discomfort, bleeding, or itching.3
There are certain risk factors that elevate a person’s chances of getting infected with HPV. They may include-7
Since HPV infection is an STI, it spreads through sexual intercourse. Therefore any form of penetrative sex or physical intimacy with the infected person can lead to its transmission.1
HPV vaccinations can protect you against the infection of human papillomavirus. As mentioned earlier, HPV can lead to warts and even serious conditions like certain cancers.2
In India, there are currently 2 globally licensed HPV vaccines available.9
Did you know that one-quarter of all cervical cancer cases worldwide are from India.10 All adolescent girls (older than 9 years) should get the HPV vaccine, as early vaccination is considered highly efficient.
HPV affects both the genders equally but most nations (including India) only encourage their female populations for the vaccination. This is so, because most HPVs are linked with high risks of cervical cancer.3,11
Males who receive the HPV vaccine will only acquire partial protection from the virus and related malignancies. It may offer protection against penile, anal, and oropharynx (mouth and throat) cancer. At the moment, only a nonavalent HPV vaccine (vaccine which contains HPV genotype 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58) is licensed for men in India. If you’re an adult who wants to get HPV vaccination then you may consult your doctor first.10
Children aged from 9 to 10 years old are mostly encouraged to get this vaccination because when we’re young, our body possesses a better immune response. Also, early vaccination can lead to early prevention of diseases.10
HPV vaccinations are safe but some can feel mild-to-moderate side effects at the site of vaccination, like pain, redness or swelling.10
Furthermore, it is possible to feel dizzy after the shot. Which is why the receiver of the vaccine must be kept under observation for the next 20 minutes.10
Cervical cancer and other related cancers caused by HPV are life threatening in nature. The prevalence of HPV is greater due to its lack of visible symptoms. It is where LifeCell's at-home self collection test kit comes handy. This test checks for 24 high risk HPVs amongst which 3 are major high risk HPVs (HPV-16, HPV-18 & HPV-45) and remaining 21 are other high-risk HPVs. All of these variations have the potential to develop into cervical cancer, if left undetected.
Most of the people who are sexually active get affected by HPV at some point in their life but due to unnoticed symptoms, it might get missed. Therefore, screening plays a crucial role in the early detection and effective treatment for high risk HPVs and cervical cancer.
“LifeCell’s HPV Test - Female” gives you an opportunity to assess your health with ease. You can now test and plan the HPV prevention or treatment path & related health conditions from the comfort of your home. Get your HPV test done today & stay safe!