Human Papillomavirus, also known as HPV, is a sexually transmitted viral infection (HPV). This disease spread from sexual skin-to-skin contact with a patient who carries virus. It can be easily spread even there is no cum. The virus can be transmitted through vaginal or anal sex without any symptoms and the incubation can be several years. There are over 100 types of HPV, and different types of HPV can lead to different results. For example, some HPV infections, such as genital HPV, could cause severe genital cancer. However, most HPV infections will not cause cancer but will create warts.
According to the CDC(Centers for Disease Control)’s statistics (2016), there are around 79 million Americans get infected by HPV, and most infections occur in patients late teens and early 20s. Besides, HPV is the most common virus that almost all sexually active men and women would get at some point in their lives. Due to the common infection of HPV and usually has no signs after infections, it is hard to notice after infected. About 50% to 90% of HPV infections which would not cause severe damage to a human body can disappear without treatment and some of them can be cleaned away by our immune systems. Other virus which cannot be defended by ourselves will cause genital warts even cancers. Common signs of certain types of HPV are warts, and like the HPV, warts have plenty of different types either. For example: genital warts, common warts, flat warts, and plantar warts, etc. Among them, genital warts are the most common one. They normally grow around the genital area as a small bump or a group of bumps, but it should be noticed that genital warts will not cause cancer, and genital warts could be diagnosed during the visual inspection as long as the warts are visible. If there are no visible signs, a pap smear test is also a way to identify HPV. According to the key facts published by WHO(World Health Organization), HPV happens globally, and about 85% of cases are found in low- and middle-income countries. Meanwhile, the cervical cancer becomes the second common cancer among women who live in undeveloped areas (HPV and cervical cancer). Moreover, HPV can be transmitted through the mother to the infant, causing a genital or respiratory system infection (Smith).
How to Solve the Problem
Though currently there is no specific treatment for HPV, treatments for the consequence caused by HPV are available. For example, genital warts are treatable under some specific medication and doctors’ advice. Also, there are some ways that are available for reducing the chance of being infected by HPV. First of all, people should get the HPV vaccination done. Nowadays, there are three types of vaccines preventing people from HPV 16 and 18 leading factors that cause 70% of cervical cancer (WHO). HPV vaccine is a safe and effective method for preventing infections. According to the CDC’s recommendation, the first dose ideally is around age 11 to 12, which is the most effective public health method to against cervical cancer. Secondly, be aware of protecting yourself during the sexual contact, and always remember to use the condom during sex. Using condom is an important method to decrease the risk of being infected by HPV.
In China, around 90 thousand new cases are diagnosed each year and approximately 30 thousand patients die because of HPV per year. Which is to say, three women died in China due to the cervical cancer every hour. In order to strengthen the publicity and education in understanding of preventing and controlling HPV, the first HPV Knowing Day was held in Shenzhen, China. In order to minimize the HPV damage caused to women and to maximize the equality of medical service, Shenzhen decided to vaccinated girls in seventh grade for free (Xinhua News). It is a great and sensible move to protect socially vulnerable groups and decrease the risk of sexually active people being infected by HPV.
In the UK, cervical cancer is also the most common cancer in women under age 35. In order to prevent infection from HPV, NHS(National Health Service) announced that girls from age 12 to 25 can get the HPV vaccine for free through NHS. The first dose offered to girls aged 12 to 13 at their eighth grade, and the second one provided to them 6 to 12 month later after the first dose. In 2018, boys around age 12 to 13 can also be offered the HPV vaccine. This action can reduce more HPV related cases effectively in boys and girls (NHS).
Public Health in the Future
After the first HPV vaccine was introduced in 2006, researchers have analyzed data between 2001 to 2014 among females from age 15 to 34. They found out that the number of patients had declined by 29% and cervical cancer patients among women aged between 25-34 had declined 13% compared to the year before the vaccine was introduced. Also, they noticed that there was a massive decrease after the year 2009. However, there was no huge decline afterward compared to the impact on younger women (Jenco). According to WHO, girls between 9 to 14 years old should have get the HPV vaccination done in order to prevent and control virus. For women older than 30 years old should do the screen test and get the treatment immediately if needed.
From my perspective, several actions are needed to prevent and control HPV. For girls between 9-14 years old, HPV vaccine is the most important protection for them before their sexually active age. Meanwhile, education about how to protect yourself during sex and knowledge about sex and gender aspects are needed. Boys and girls should establish a correct value about sex and gender in their early age. For people who are during the sexually active period, provision of condoms is essential. Having safe sex is an important factor that could reduce the risk of getting HPV and all STIs. Also, be aware of the number of sex partners you have, people who have a higher numbers of sex partners will have a higher chance to get HPV. Screening is also a significant way to test pre-cancer or avoid cancer. When cancers are found in the early stage, they are easier to be cured. According to WHO, HPV happens more in less developing countries due to lack of medical equipment and medication, so most cases are found until it further advanced or in a late stage. Therefore, I think it is important to help less developing countries to improve their medical services, and provide them medical assistance if capable.
- HPV Fact Sheet, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (November 16, 2017). https://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpv.htm
- HPV and cervical cancer. (24 January 2019). https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/human-papillomavirus-(hpv)-and-cervical-cancer
- Smith Lori, Reviewed by Justin Choi, MD. (29 November, 2017). What is human papillomavirus (HPV), https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/246670.php
- China started to protect women away from HPV, Xinhua News Media, March 08, 2018, https://baijiahao.baidu.com/s?id=1594363342259546128&wfr=spider&for=pc
- Vaccinations, NHS. (October 31, 2017). https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/hpv-human-papillomavirus-vaccine/
- Jenco, Melissa,Cervical Cancer declines follow HPV vaccine introduction, (August 9, 2018). https://www.aappublications.org/news/2018/08/09/cervicalcancer080918
- HPV,The Center for Women’s Health & Wellness, http://www.scottedermd.com/services/gynecologic-problems/sexually-transmitted-diseases/genital-human-papillomavirus-hpv/
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