What is the Papilloma virus? Transmission, vaccine and how to cure HPV

What is the Papilloma Virus or HPV?

HPV, or Human Papilloma Virus, is a virus that infects skin and mucous membranes, specifically in areas such as the vulva, cervix, vagina, anus but also throat and mouth. There are about 150 different types, which our immune system generally manages to fight, and of which 30 are sexually transmitted.
Among these, about 12 types of HPV are defined as "low risk" (the most common are HPV6 and HPV11) and are often the cause of codylomas, soft skin growths that appear in both male and female genital areas. Codylomas appear just when our immune system cannot cope with the virus alone, and warns us through these growths that, in most cases, they disappear on their own, otherwise they need adequate treatment.
There are also about 15 types of HPV considered to be at "high risk" (including frequent HPV 16, HPV 18), which can cause cervical cancer, or cervical cancer, which affects the neck of the uterus, a very widespread tumor that it is good to fight through prevention and routine checks such as Pap smears.

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Transmission of the papilloma virus: what are the causes of HPV infection

The papilloma virus is transmitted mostly through complete sexual intercourse, which is why virgin women, who can be given the vaccine more effectively, are less prone to the papilloma virus. It has been theorized the possibility that the infection also occurs through the exchange of infected underwear and at the time of childbirth, but to date there are no supporting data. Transmission of HPV generally occurs by sexual intercourse of a nature:
-contact of the external genitalia
The relationships most at risk are genital-genital and anus-genital ones, in the others the chances of contracting the virus are slightly reduced. Among the various contraceptive methods, the condom protects only partially from contagion because it has been studied that the transmission of the virus can also occur from the shaft of the penis, from the perineum or from the groin. However, it is important to use condoms, both for HPV and for other sexually transmitted diseases.

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What are the symptoms of HPV?

Most people who contract the papilloma virus manage to eradicate it within a certain period without even realizing they have contracted it, because the immune system defeats the HPV on its own and the virus remains asymptomatic. The other side of the coin is that the absence of specific symptoms often does not allow those affected by the virus to notice and possibly take the necessary measures. In some cases, the papilloma virus manifests itself through codylomas, soft growths that occur in the genital area, but in the worst cases with cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer itself can be asymptomatic in some cases, or manifest problems that can also go unnoticed such as water and blood loss in moments away from menstruation or after menopause, pelvic pain and unpleasant odors. This tumor develops in most cases because a woman does not realize she has contracted the virus and, in a latent period that can last for years, the HPV DNA integrates with that of the host cell, giving birth to cancer cells. Precisely for this reason, the pap test and HPV test are of fundamental importance to prevent the onset of more serious problems or to prevent infections from affecting fertility, as the doctor suggests:

The papilloma virus in humans is equally common

Like women, men who have had and have complete sexual intercourse can also contract the papilloma virus. As in most cases, HPV infection in men is asymptomatic. In some cases, however, codylomas may also appear on the shaft of the penis or in the anus, which can directly suggest HPV. On the contrary, it is much rarer for a man to contract penile cancer and, to date, not there are data on a possible connection between the events.
Since HPV can occur long after transmission, it is possible that the source of the infection may not be understood, especially if the person has had many partners. To date, there are no tests for male HPV.

Papilloma virus vaccine: who can do it, cost and side effects

Who can do it and types of vaccines
The papilloma virus vaccine is not suitable for all women because it has been found to be most effective on women who are never exposed to any risk in summer, therefore who have never had any type of sexual intercourse. To date, in reality, there are only two types of vaccines for the papilloma virus: Gardasil and Cervarix, both against cervical cancer. Specifically, Gardasil is more effective for the two types of HPV considered to be a " low risk ", namely HPV6 and 11, while Cevarix protects against HPV16 and 18 viruses, which cause 70% of cervical cancers. The problem is that these vaccines are not proven to be effective on HPV infections already contracted.

Cost of the HPV vaccine
In Italy, vaccinations for HPV are managed regionally and in principle the vaccine is offered free of charge to girls around 11-12 years of age, but some regions have extended the age ranges to older girls or boys as well. of the vaccination provides that, for this age group, two doses are administered at 0 and 6 months to consider the complete vaccination, which to date seems to have a minimum value of 5 years, and it is not yet known whether any boosters will then be made . For older age groups, the dosage and timing of the vaccine can increase up to 3.
The National Health Service covers the costs only for girls aged 11-12. Those wishing to get vaccinated anyway, despite not having the favorable basic conditions such as age and lack of sexual intercourse, will have to pay. According to the vaccination scheme, the cost of Gardasil is approximately € 300 for 3 administrations, a cost that reaches about € 515 if purchased at the pharmacy For Cevarix, the cost is around € 285 for 3 doses or € 471 if the product is purchased at the pharmacy.

Vaccine side effects
As with any drug administration, the HPV vaccine can have side effects such as fever or redness, irritation and pain in the injection area. The scientific community informs that no side effects of any other nature have been found.

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How is the papilloma virus treated?

It is very common for the HPV virus to "heal itself". Very often it happens that the infection is asymptomatic precisely because it is our immune system that eliminates the papilloma virus on its own. Codylomas, on the other hand, can be treated locally with antiviral creams or with topical solutions of salicylic acid or trichloroacetic acid, even if in some cases small surgical treatments are necessary such as laser therapy, cryotherapy and diathermocoagulation. For precancerous lacerations of the uterine cervix, in principle, a partial removal of the cervix is ​​necessary which does not alter the reproductive capacity of the uterus. woman. For cervical cancer "c" is a specific dedicated prophylaxis. In general, to avoid risky and dangerous situations it is very important to do prevention through the pap-test, from the moment you have the first sexual intercourse to rise and with an HPV-test from 30 years onwards.

For more useful information on the papilloma virus, you can visit the website of the Veronesi Foundation.

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