What Is The Human Papillomavirus?
Over the years, you've probably heard of HPV and wondered to yourself, what is the human papillomavirus? The human papillomavirus is a large group of common viruses that cause everything from plantar warts to cancers of the cervix, throat and anus. While most of the time, the virus will clear up on its own after a period of time, occasionally the human papillomavirus can be life threatening.
Many times, a person can have the human papillomavirus and not know it because he will not have any symptoms. In some instances, a person with HPV may develop warts. Human papillomavirus can cause common warts, typically found on the hands, plantar warts, which are found on the bottom of the feet and genital warts. The virus is spread by contact, so if you touch a wart on someone else, you may also develop warts. Fortunately, the types of HPV that cause warts are not the same types of human papillomavirus that can cause cancer.
Some strains of the virus can cause lesions to grow on the genital area as well as in the mouth or throat. These lesions are usually pre-cancerous, meaning that they may develop into cancer if left on the body. Depending on the type of HPV that caused the lesion, they may be low or high risk for cancer. The low risk lesions may return to normal on their own, without treatment. High risk lesions are likely to progress to cancer. HPV types 16 and 18 are usually responsible for lesions that potentially develop into oral, anal or cervical cancers.
Although more than 50% of all people will likely get some sort of human papillomavirus during their lifetime, you can reduce your risk of HPV by taking certain precautions. If you choose to have sex, use protection. A vaccine that protects against certain strains of the virus is also available for men and women under 26 years of age.