How is HPV Transmitted?
HPV lives in the surface layers of the skin and is typically transmitted through direct skin-to-skin contact during intimate sexual activity with someone who has HPV.
The virus can be spread through both penetrative and non-penetrative sexual contact, including genital, oral, and anal sex. HPV does not spread through blood or body fluids, like semen.
Since HPV is so prevalent, having the virus is considered a natural consequence of being sexually active. Nearly every person will have HPV on their skin at some point in their life, regardless of their sexual activity or preference.
It is even possible to unknowingly infect another person with HPV. Statistics reveal that at least 70% of partners of individuals with HPV also have the infection. Up to 80% of unvaccinated adults with contract HPV at a certain point in their lives.
When Does the HPV Infection Occur?
Knowing when an HPV infection occurs is virtually impossible since the virus can remain dormant for months or even years prior to any clinical presentation (e.g., genital warts, dysplastic). It is also extremely difficult to determine which partner it came from or how long ago the infection occurred.
Having HPV does not necessarily mean that a person or their partner is engaging in extramarital sex. Although rare, some experts believe that HPV may spread through non-sexual contact, such as an object carrying infectious material. However, this is still a topic of debate, and science does not currently provide explanations for these instances.
HPV tests are available, but their scope is limited in terms of which HPV types they can detect and when they are used. These tests are not part of a routine sexual health check-up for both males and females since there is no blood or swab test available.
The reasons behind the lack of standardized testing are:
- HPV tests do not check for all types of HPV.
- Sometimes the virus is present in a dormant state that cannot be detected by testing.
In conjunction with cervical smears, HPV testing can aid doctors in making further management decisions concerning abnormal cervical smear results.
- A positive HPV test means that the individual has one of the high-risk HPV types.
- A negative HPV test means that the high-risk HPV types tested were not detectable.
The HPV test conducted with cervical smears only checks for high-risk HPV types, such as HPV 16 and 18. HPV tests are focused on high-risk types only and do not encompass all HPV types.
Yes, treatment options exist for removing genital HPV warts, but it is not mandatory.
Although there is a connection between cancers like cervical cancer and HPV, being diagnosed with HPV infection does not necessarily mean you will develop cancer. HPV infections belong to two types:
- Low-risk HPV types not associated with pre-cancer or cancer
- High-risk HPV types associated with pre-cancer and cancer
Genital and oral warts are generally caused by low-risk HPV. Treatment choices are available for high grade cervical abnormalities.
Silent HPV infections, which have no symptoms, do not have a treatment. However, the body’s immune system typically clears most HPV infections naturally within 1-2 years. A critical point to note is that HPV is preventable. Immunization against HPV infection, available in the form of the HPV vaccine, has been available for years and protects against the development of HPV cancers. A healthy diet, lifestyle, plenty of sleep and taking supplements such as AHCC which is a special patented mushroom-based compound developed in Japan will help build your immune system and help you fight off potential infections.