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10 questions for human papillomavirus

VPH, papillomavirus, sexual contact, prevention, genital warts, world health organization,


On papillomavirus people (HPV) are transmitted from sexual contact. Some of them are responsible for some types of cancer, as well as other conditions, such as genital warts. But of the more than 150 species that exist, only 13 of them are oncogens (associated with the appearance of some kind of cancer) and only 2 types (16 and 18) cause most cancers of the cervix. uterus

However, it isl HPV It's not something that's common: 80% of sexually active people will have contact with the virus at some point in his life. And even more: the usual thing is to get in touch with him in his youth right after the start of sexual activity.

For all of this, the vaccine is the only way of effective prevention. Many countries have already implemented vaccinations for girls adolescents and, eventually, also for boys; Ideally, it should be administered before the first sexual intercourse.

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HPV: misinformation and social alarm

As detailed information on the virus is obtained, a sense of alertness to the possible dangers of the virus increases among the population. infection. Disinformation about this issue leads to a common mistake: the one of an association of viral infection automatically with the suffering of cancer in the future. But to what extent should we be upset?

1 What is a human papilloma virus?

We are talking about exclusively human pathogen. That is, there is no animal reservoir. There are more than 150 species, but not all are dangerous. In fact, most are not. 42 species are genitalia.

Symptoms of cervical cancer are detailed in WHO as follows: vaginal bleeding between menstrual periods or abnormal bleeding after a sexual intercourse; back, leg or pelvic pain; fatigue, weight loss, loss of appetite; vaginal discomfort or vaginal discharge; or swelling of just one leg.

2. How is it transmitted?

Papillomaviruses are transmitted from sexual contact through leather with leather or mucous. That is, it is not necessary to have a penetration in the sexual connection for transmission to occur.

3. How many species are there?

Of the more than 150 that exist, some are known as high risk of cancer: 16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 56, 58, 59, 68, 69, 73 and 82

The most important are type 16 and type 18, because they are responsible for 80% of the cancer.

As for the low risk, there are types 6 and 11, which are responsible for the production of genital warts They can also cause respiratory papillomatosis (tumors in the airways that go from the nose and mouth to the lungs).

4. What types of cancer are associated with it?

Picture: cervical cancer cells under the microscope / iStock.

Papillomaviruses are responsible for 70% of cervical cancer, but it is also associated with tumors of the anus, vulva, vagina and penis.

5. What is the risk of cancer?

Owns any of the types of high risk virus does not mean that you will suffer cancer in the future It is likely that the immune system ends with the elimination of the virus itself, in case the person is not vaccinated.

In fact, the World Health Organization he warns that the majority, about 90%, disappears two years after it has been acquired. In addition, many years may pass from this injury to the derivation of cancer, for example, the cervix. In fact, the cervical cancerFor example, it usually takes 15 to 20 years to develop in women with a normal immune system.

6. How is it prevented?

There are only 3 completely effective ways of prevention: sexual abstinence for life, monogamy (just the two sides without either of which have never been in contact with the virus) and vaccination.

7. When should the vaccine be given?

It is ideal to vaccinate before you start sexual activity, in early adolescence. The vaccine is the only method that provides permanent immunity to the papillomavirus that it contains.

In addition, it should be noted that the vaccine has no therapeutic effect. He does not treat already acquired viruses, but only protects them from contraception from the administration of the vaccine onwards.

8. What types of vaccines exist?

Vaccines of 2 strains protect against serotypes 16 and 18, the most dangerous because they are the ones that cause the majority of neck cancer of the uterus. One of the 4 strains protects against the previous and also against types 6 and 11 (those that cause genital warts). And, of course, that 9-strain protects against five other types besides those already mentioned: 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58. Thus, it protects up to 98% of the different types of cancer related to HPV

9. What benefits and disadvantages does the vaccine have?

An unwanted effect with more, in addition to the pain of puncture, is a headache.

Also, by administering the vaccine we could be close to eradicating for the first time a kind of cancer, the cervix.

10. And the men?

The recommendation of the specialists is to apply vaccine also to children, even if the vaccine for them is not funded. The reason for not being is that men were thought to be beneficial to girls' group immunity. But this is not the case in the case, for example, of homosexuals. They are unprotected if they are not vaccinated because they will have relationships with each other, with people who are not vaccinated.

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