HPV Q & A
What is HPV?
According to the CDC, Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States. In fact, it is so common that nearly all sexually-active men and women contract it at some point in their lives. In most cases, HPV goes away on its own but when it does not, it can cause cancer and genital warts.
How is HPV and other STDs contracted?
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HPV are contracted by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the virus or disease. In many cases, STDs can be passed even when the infected person shows no signs or symptoms. In the case of HPV, anyone who is sexually active can get the virus, even if they have only had sex with one person. A person may be exposed to HPV through mere genital to genital contact and does not require intercourse. Both men and women can be carriers of HPV for any period of time; therefore, often we cannot pinpoint the exact moment when a patient first contracted the virus.
How do you test for and treat HPV and other STDs?
There is no current test for HPV, but there are HPV tests that can screen for cervical cancer. These tests are only recommended for women over the age of 30. However, the best way to prevent the virus is to be vaccinated against it. The HPV vaccine is recommended for everyone, males and females, between the ages of 9 and 26. There is no treatment for the virus itself, but only for the health problems caused by the virus. Genital warts, cervical precancer, and other HPV cancers are treated individually.
Testing for other STDs is generally done via a physical exam, a culture or swab from the infected site, or blood tests. Treatment of STDs varies depending on the disease. Oral antibiotics, antibiotic injections, and medications may be used.