Here's all you need to know about Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

It’s different from herpes

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It’s less familiar, yet a very common sexually transmitted infection. Commonly known as HPV, the Human Papilloma Virus has over 100 types of virus that cause different infections.

The different types of virus can affect different parts of the body such as the penis, anus, testicles, groin, cervix, thighs, tongue and the mouth. Although it’s mostly spread through vaginal, oral and anal sex, you could also get it if your skin comes into contact with someone who already has the virus.

Check out some more facts about the Human Papilloma Virus:

1. Condoms are not 100% safe

Condoms only lower the risk of HPV but cannot protect you fully. This is because you can get the virus through other parts that are not covered by the condom.

2. HPV causes cancer and genital warts

HPV causes cervical cancer, penile cancer as well as anal cancer. Type 6 and 11 are responsible for genital warts. According to the World Health Organisation, at least 14 of the many types of HPV viruses are considered to be high-risk type in terms of causing cancer. This, however, is not to say that if you have HPV you must get cancer.

3. HPV is different from Genital Herpes

Both of them are STIs and are difficult to treat since some people show no symptoms but they can still spread it to others. However, Genital herpes is spread by the Herpes Simplex Virus type 2. And just like HPV, herpes is not curable but you can get medication to control the symptoms and reduce its frequency.

4. You can get vaccinated

There are three types of vaccine to prevent HPV. HPV type 16 and 18 are known to have the strongest connection to cancer. They cause 70% of cervical cancer. So, you can get vaccinated against cancer-causing HPV as well as genital warts causing type. The vaccines, however, cannot protect you from all the other types of HPV. Currently, you cannot get the vaccine in Kenya although it’s expected to be rolled out this year.

5. HPV can resolve on its own

According to WHO, after some months most HPV cases clear on their own without causing you any harm. 90% of the cases will go away after two years while a small percentage will persist and progress to cervical cancer.

6. It’s not a death sentence

While most people are scared of the HPV, it’s treatable and you can lead a normal life after being infected with it. However, once you have the virus, it is impossible to cure it. This means that the infection may recur.

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