5 Things that You Need to Know About Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

5 Things that You Need to Know About Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a very common virus that infects both women and men. Although most HPV infections go away on their own over time, some infections cannot be cleared by the immune system, meaning that they can hang around long enough to actually damage the DNA in infected cells. This can cause abnormal changes in the cells, and even lead to the development of cancer. Cervical screening for HPV, along with the HPV vaccine, provides us with powerful tools to prevent cervical cancer from ever developing. However, there is currently no diagnostic test available that is able to detect HPV infections in other parts of the body.

Another very important fact is that HPV doesn’t just cause cervical cancer, it also causes other cancers in both men and women, which is why HPV vaccination is strongly recommended for both sexes – boys and girls.

1) HPV causes other cancers, in addition to cervical cancer, in both men and women

While cervical cancer is the most well-known HPV-related cancer, it certainly is not the only type of cancer that HPV infections can cause. Persistent HPV infections can also cause other various types of cancer, including:

  • Cancer of the mouth and throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils (oropharynx), in both men and women
  • Cancer of the anus in both men and women
  • Cancer of the vagina and vulva in women
  • Cancer of the penis in men

In fact, in some countries around the world, HPV-related cancers of the mouth and throat (oropharyngeal cancers), have become increasingly common over the years.

2) HPV does not require penetrative sex to be transmitted

HPV is passed on by skin-to-skin contact, therefore, it is technically a sexually transmitted infection. However, penetrative sex is not necessary for catching HPV; transmission of the virus can also take place by touching the genital area. Furthermore, it is important to note that HPV does not discriminate based on gender or sexual orientation, because anyone can catch and pass on HPV infections.

3) HPV does not usually cause any symptoms

Despite the link between HPV infections and numerous cancers, HPV infections themselves often go unnoticed because they usually don’t cause any symptoms. It is only HPV types 6 and 11 (both classed as low risk) that result in the development of genital warts, and therefore give rise to a symptom that is visible. Infections with all other HPV types rarely produce any symptoms. 

4) HPV vaccination is recommended for children aged 12 to 13

The reason why HPV vaccination is recommended at such an early age is because it is vital that the vaccine is given before the person has had the chance to come into contact with the virus, hence making it more effective. It is important to also receive all the doses as recommended and at the required time. It should be taken into consideration that HPV does not discriminate based on gender, as both men and women are as likely to get the infection. Therefore, it is important that both boys and girls are vaccinated against HPV, in order to help protect against future HPV infections and reduce their risk of developing HPV-related cancers.

5) HPV vaccination does not mean that there is no need for cervical screening, AND cervical screening does not mean that there is no need for HPV vaccination 

Every year, around 3,200 women living in the UK will be diagnosed with cervical cancer, and over 25% of those will die from the disease, despite the available screening and treatment. Many people believe that it is not necessary to attend their cervical screening appointment if they have been vaccinated against HPV, but this is clearly wrong. There are over 15 high-risk types of HPV that can cause cancer. The vaccine, up until recently, only protected against 2 high-risk HPV types; currently, the most recent vaccine covers 9 types out of over 200 in total (both low and high risk). This means that even if you are vaccinated, it does not offer full protection against ALL types of HPV. This highlights the importance of cervical screening which tests for multiple types of HPV, so infections will not go undetected. At present, there is no routine screening test available for other HPV-related cancers, besides cervical cancer. This often leads to the late discovery of those types of cancer when they have already advanced to a later stage when treatment is much more difficult and health outcomes are likely to be poorer. It is therefore essential that women and people with a cervix take full advantage of the ability to be screened for free in the UK, which is recommended at the age of 25-64 every 3-5 years.

10zyme: Reimagining women’s health

10zyme is improving cervical screening with a groundbreaking test designed to enhance your experience and put you in control of your cervical health.

Our at-home test AND results kit will be easy-to-use, reliable, and non-invasive, enabling you to conveniently screen for HPV infections that cause cervical cancer in the comfort and privacy of your home, with results available in just minutes.

At 10zyme, our goal is to create a positive change in women’s health. With our innovative diagnostic test, you will be able to proactively manage your health by providing better access to vital preventative measures against cancer.

Explore our website to discover more about our cutting-edge mission, and visit 10zyme’s Education Station to learn more about Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and the associated health conditions, including cervical cancer and other related types of cancer, through our diverse range of engaging and informative blogs, articles, and free downloadable guides dedicated to equipping you with essential knowledge that will help effectively guide your prevention strategy.

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