What is HPV?
HPV, a human papillomavirus virus, is a virus that infects the skin and mucosa. It is now the most common sexually transmitted disease. There are more than 200 types, some of which are genital, others are related to warts (6 and 11), others to cancer (16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 58).
Is it easy to catch?
According to the secretary of the Commission on Infectious and Contagious Diseases in Gynecology and Obstetrics of Febrasgo, José Eleutério Junior, about 80% of men and 80% of sexually active women will come into contact with the virus at some point.
However, only a small portion will have its cells infected, and a smaller portion will still have related diseases. According to the Inca (National Cancer Institute), 25% of the USA are infected, although only 3% to 10% of them develop related cancer.
What is the reaction with cancer? Does everyone cause it?
No, only some types cause cancer. Jeremy D. Goldhaber-Fiebert, a professor at Stanford University, says that 10% of cancers in women occur in the cervix and that more than 250,000 women (85% of them in developing countries) die from the disease.
According to him, 10% of women infected with high-risk HPV develop long-term infections that can turn cancer of the cervix.
Eleutério Junior says that almost 100% of cases of cervical cancer, 90% of cancer of the anus and 30% of the mouth have a relationship with HPV, in addition to almost half of the cases of penile cancer. According to the doctor, if the woman has HPV type 16, she has a one-thousandth chance of developing cancer, but the risk compared to a woman who does not have the virus is 500 times higher.
How can papillomaviruses be diagnosed?
HPV is diagnosed by Pap smear. Most of the time, the woman only discovers that she has the virus if she has any injuries.
In men, the virus has more subtle characteristics, so they only seek a doctor when there is a more obvious injury. The search for treatment is also due to the appearance of warts on the vulva, penis, and anus.
How long does HPV stay in your system?
There isn’t a treatment for HPV, yet. A healthy immune system always helps, though. Often people clear HPV infection on their own within months or years. Around 2-3 years, maybe longer, depending on your immune system.
If I have HPV discovered by the pap smear, can I also have HPV in my mouth?
If you have had mouth contact with the infected mucosa, you may have contracted the virus. But again, getting in touch is very frequent, but being infected does not. Generally, treatment is only made in the mouth if there is an oral lesion.
If I am infected, but without an injury, is there a problem?
The cell may be infected, which is the cell’s ability to stay with viruses, but the body does not let the virus cause any injury. You can become infected for months or many years until your body eliminates the virus. The will lead to injuries, according to Eleutério Junior, is the combination of body immunity and genetics. In general, the virus is eliminated from 1 to 2 years, and during the period it is recommended to do the Papanicolaou every 6 months for follow-up.
Can you see how the transmission was? From man to woman or vice versa?
There is no way to know why the virus can stay in the person’s cell for a long time, and the transmission may not be sexual.
After how long has the cancer been infected?
According to Eleutério Junior, the evolutionary process of a minor injury can take 10 to 15 years to reach cancer. Therefore, well-done pap smear is essential for prevention.
How can people prevent HPV?
HPV is transmitted through mucosal contact, not necessarily through sexual intercourse with penetration, but the male condom (condom) protects 80%. The vaccine is the primary way to prevent the types that most cause cancer and genital warts. (Read more about vaccines below)
Is it necessary to tell the sexual partner to take tests?
Having a sexual relationship with an infected person does not mean that transmission of the virus will occur, but once detected in the partner, men should seek a urologist and women the gynecologist.
What is the treatment for eradicating papillomavirus infection?
Treatment varies according to age, the physician’s experience and the characteristic of the injury. There are three levels of injury: low, medium and high grade. If it is a low-grade lesion in adolescents, 80% of the time it disappears completely in up to 2 years.
In women over 30 years should be more present conduct. The lesions are treated with cauterization or acid; in cases of high grade, there is a biopsy. The vaccine is also recommended as a treatment.
To know what type of HPV the person has, it would be necessary to search for antibodies (the body’s defenses). So the doctor says the practice is to give the vaccine to stimulate the creation of antibodies.
What are and how are HPV vaccines?
There are two vaccines against HPV, the quadrivalent and the bivalent. The quadri creates antibodies to the two major types of the cancer-causing virus (16 and 18) – the same as the bivalent virus – and also to two types that produce genital warts (6 and 11). The vaccine protects against 70% of cases of cervical cancer.
According to research conducted in Australia, there was a 90% reduction of genital warts with vaccination in the country’s health system. The vaccine, today only comes in the private network and costs about $ 400 a dose. It is applied in three doses.
Is there a factor that increases a woman’s risk of developing cervical cancer?
Some factors increase the potential for developing cervical cancer in women infected with the papillomavirus: high numbers of pregnancies, use of oral contraceptives (contraceptive pill), smoking, patients treated with immunosuppressants (transplanted), HIV infection, and other diseases sexually transmitted diseases (such as herpes and chlamydia).
(With information from the Secretary of the Commission on Infectious-Contagious Diseases in Gynecology and Obstetrics of Febrasgo, José Eleutério Junior, and the Inca (National Cancer Institute)
What are the consequences?
Warts, when visible, represent an advanced stage of the disease, says Luiz Fernando Dale. And this is the greatest danger. In the case of high-risk types that act silently in the body, HPV can cause cervical cancer in the long term, warns Rosa Maria Name.
In men, the lesions can cause cancer of the penis and anus, complete Luiz Fernando Dale.
How is prevention?
To avoid contamination, the use of condoms is essential. Consultations with a gynecologist and annual exams, such as the pap smear, are also preventive measures.
Are you taking the vaccine?
Anti-HPV does not prevent all types of virus, only the most worrisome. There are two vaccines commercialized in Brazil. The main one is HPV-16 and HPV-18, present in 70% of cases of cervical cancer, and HPV-6 and HPV-11, which appear in 90% of warts, explains gynecologist Rosa Maria Name.
Indicated to immunize mainly men and women between 12 and 29 years, it stimulates the production of antibodies specific for each HPV.
The protection will depend on the number of antibodies made by the person vaccinated, their presence at the site of the infection and their persistence over a long period, the doctor concludes, citing that the real impact of vaccination can only be observed in a few decades.