What is HPV?
HPV stands for Human papilloma virus, a group of over 150 related similar viruses in one class. These type of viruses have a tendency to infect the skin, mucous membrane and respiratory tract.
How do we differentiate between the different types of HPV?
Based on the DNA of the virus, an individual number is used to identify each type of the virus.
What can HPV do to us?
Papilloma means “wart”, so HPV can cause different types of skin, genital or respiratory warts in humans. More importantly, HPV can cause deadly cancers.
The following cancers can be caused by HPV:
- Genital cancers such as cancer of cervix, vulva, vagina, penis and anus
- Oral cancers such as cancer of throat, base of the tongue and tonsils
What are the signs of an HPV infection?
Most of the time, people infected with HPV do not have any signs or symptoms of an infection. Therefore,infected people are usually unaware they are infected at all. In other words, IT CAN BE A SILENT INFECTION!!
Although such an infection can remain unknown to the infected individual and can be harmless, certain types of HPV can cause deadly cancers later in life if left undiagnosed and untreated.
How common is it to be infected with HPV?
According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) every sexually-active adult will be infected with HPV at some time in his or her life.
In most cases, the body will get rid of the infection on its own over the course of two years.
How can I know if my type of HPV will remain harmless or cause cancer?
HPV types that cause health problems in humans are divided into two classes:
Low risks HPVs such as type 6 and 11, are the cause of common genital warts as well as respiratory tract infections
High risk HPVs such as type 16 and 18 are those that if left untreated can progress to cancer.
How can HPV infection be diagnosed?
The low risks HPVs usually appear as a wart, which can be diagnosed clinically by a physician.
The high risk HPVs, which can cause cancer, can be tested and found by determining the DNA of the virus.
Can I be tested for cancer causing HPVs?
For females with no symptoms or signs of HPV we can screen for high risk HPV while obtaining an annual pap smear.
For asymptomatic males high risk HPV screening is not recommended. If you have any concerns, feel free to make an appointment to be seen by Dr. Shafa for diagnosis, treatment and advice about HPV.
Can I be tested for warts?
If you have any skin or genital bumps and you are concerned about possible STIs or genital warts call us to make an appointment to be seen by Dr. Shafa.
Warts can be diagnosed by an experienced physician clinically, by looking at the lesion with the naked eye. Dr. Shafa can examine the lesion with Dermoscope as well to be more certain about the diagnosis before beginning treatment.
Can I have a blood test to diagnose HPV infection?
No. There is no blood test for HPV diagnosis, however; since many different types of skin bumps may look like warts and can manifest as a small or large lesions, flat or raised in different colors and texture, the diagnosis of warts may not be certain by clinical evaluation. In that case, Dr. Shafa may decide to perform a skin biopsy to ensure that the skin lesion is treated appropriately.
How can I prevent HPV infection?
There are HPV vaccines that reduce the chance of infection and increase immunity against HPV infection. Be sure to ask about HPV vaccination during your medical visit to see if you are a candidate. Ask a question or call us for an appointment.
How can HPV be treated?
There are many factors that must be considered before choosing a treatment plan for someone infected with HPV or diagnosed with warts.
We will individualize a treatment plan for you so you will receive the best and most effective therapy. We will provide private education about how to protect yourself and your partner from possibly becoming a victim of a deadly disease that could have been prevented.
What is my risk for other STIs if I’m infected with HPV?
Dr. Shafa recommends that any patient with one STI be tested for the other common STIs as well. This provides patient and doctor peace of mind.
We can offer complete STI/STD panel testing!!
You can be tested right here in our office for any symptom or concern you may be experiencing to ensure proper treatment for you and your partner. Testing can be as simple as clinical evaluation by Dr. Shafa, urine/blood analysis, culture, and biopsy.
Certain types of STIs can be treated immediately!
For certain STIs we can treat you in the office. A single injection or a single pill by mouth can take care of the infection completely.
For some STIs we may also offer Expedited Partner Therapy. For this, we may provide prescriptions or medications for you to take home to your partner without Dr. Shafa first examining him or her.