What is HPV?
It is worth noting that viruses are wandering genes, they have a kind of intelligence. Academician Kaznacheev once said that about two tons of viral-bacterial-influenza “live mass” pass through the human body during his life. All these processes, of course, affect the work of genes.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection occurs at least once in a lifetime in most sexually active people. The highest prevalence is observed in women aged 20 to 24 years and men aged 25 to 29 years. Among the reasons influencing the spread of HPV are socio-economic, behavioral and medical and hygienic factors.
How HPV manifests itself
HPV (family Papillomaviridae) causes damage to the skin and mucous membranes of humans. At the same time, their immune barrier is defective, which ultimately leads to an increase in the inflammatory process. In other words, when it enters the body, the virus causes the growth of defective cells that is not controlled by the immune system, which is clearly manifested in the form of papillomas, warts, and condylomas on the skin. Another “center” of the manifestation of this virus is the uterus. This organ is a kind of “exhaust pipe” in the body, since it serves as a direct indicator of the problems existing in the body (if there are any, the process of conception is impossible or difficult). The human papillomavirus affects the lining of the uterus and can cause oncology.
Types of HPV
Human papillomavirus can be divided into two categories – low oncogenic risk and high oncogenic risk. In most cases, the infection caused by low-risk HPV (types 1, 2, 3 and 4) is handled by the body on its own due to strong immunity. Rarely, this type of infection causes warts, benign papillomas, precancerous lesions, and even cancer. In turn, HPV types 16 and 18 are considered biological carcinogens for cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and oropharynx. Depending on the manifestations of HPV infection on the genitals, latent, subclinical and clinical forms are distinguished.
- The latent form of HPV infection, despite the presence of virus DNA, is not accompanied by morphological changes in the affected tissue. It is possible to determine the asymptomatic presence of this type of infection using molecular biological methods, which requires constant monitoring of the state of the epithelium of the cervix, vagina and vulva. With this form, specific treatment is not required.
Subclinical forms of HPV infection (which are usually asymptomatic) can be determined by colposcopy and cytological or histological examination. Most vaginal warts are asymptomatic, but they can often be the cause of itching, vaginal discharge, or spotting after intercourse.
The clinical form of the infection, which doctors most often encounter, manifests itself mainly in the form of warts and papillary formations, which usually occur in places that are injured during sexual intercourse. Their appearance and further relapses are associated with a weakening of general and local immunity. An important nuance is that from the moment of infection to the appearance of warts, it can take from several weeks to several years. The average time between infection and their appearance is 11-12 months in men and up to six months in young women.
Cervical cancer – how dangerous is it?
To understand how widespread and dangerous this disease is, it is enough to study the numbers. About 530 thousand cases of cervical cancer (CC) are registered annually in the world – it is in fourth place in the world in terms of the prevalence of cancer in women. In Russia, the frequency is even higher – cervical cancer ranks second in incidence in women under the age of 45 years. If we consider the structure of mortality in women under 45, death from cervical cancer is in first place.
How can you get HPV?
The most common route of infection is vaginal and oral sexual contact, including without penetration. Even a single contact with a probability of 80% leads to infection. It is also possible to become infected through oral sexual contact. The baby can get the virus from the mother during childbirth.
Girls who have not reached puberty are most at risk of becoming infected. The specificity of the virus is such that most men and women are infected at the beginning of sexual activity, and some are infected repeatedly.
Is infection always the same as disease?
In the group of people under 30 years of age, 90% of cases of infection ends with an independent cure. The remaining 10% go into the chronic stage, which can then turn into cervical cancer. This process is very extended in time: from the moment of infection to the development of oncology, 5-20 years pass. And cancer does not appear “suddenly”, it is preceded by precancerous diseases. Thus, with a careful attitude to one’s health, the disease can be prevented or detected in the early stages.
Cervical cancer in the early stages may not manifest itself symptomatically. Therefore, it is very important to regularly visit a gynecologist and carry out all the recommended examinations. Every woman should be extremely careful about bloody discharge, discharge with an unpleasant odor, and pain in the lower abdomen.
How is HPV and cervical cancer diagnosed?
The diagnostic system today is very developed and allows you to achieve high accuracy in the early stages. First of all, screening tests are used, including cytological examination of the cervix, tests for HPV of high oncogenic risk, extended colposcopy.
The Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation recommends annual cervical screening for all women from 21 to 69 years of age. Cytological examination of women from 21 to 29 years old is carried out every 3 years, and from 30 to 69 years old – once every 5 years. HPV testing is carried out as prescribed by a doctor, based on the results of smears.
Prevention and treatment of HPV
Any disease is better to prevent than to cure – and in the case of HPV, doctors and patients have every opportunity to do this. Vaccination can be recommended as primary prevention today. The importance of this vaccination is evidenced at least by the fact that in many countries it is included in the national vaccination calendar. And they do it to all children – both girls and boys. And the experience of such vaccination has already been accumulated, there is evidence of effectiveness. In particular, the Australian Minister of Health announced that by 2020 Australia will become the first country in the world with zero rates of cervical cancer, thanks to mass vaccination since 2007.
Like other viruses, HPV can be removed with the help of various immunostimulating foods, such as colostrum, cat’s claw, shark liver oil, and also stimulate the body with various trace elements – calcium, magnesium, iodine, zinc, selenium, iron. These trace elements strengthen the immune system and favorably affect the body’s defense against HPV. There is a statement that when HPV occurs in the body, a matrix zone is formed (the first papilloma that arose under the influence of the virus), and if it is cauterized and removed, the likelihood of new ones is noticeably reduced. With a recurrent course of the disease, the use of systemic immunomodulatory agents, in particular interferons, is recommended.
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