The most common sexually transmitted infection worldwide is human papillomavirus (HPV), affecting more than 600 million people.
HPV is spread by having vaginal, oral, or anal sex with someone who is infected with the virus, with it most often spread through vaginal or anal sex.
There are different types of HPV, which can cause various symptoms and health complications. Genital warts and cancer are two potential complications, and they each result from different types of HPV. Unfortunately, there is no way to determine who will develop these health problems from HPV, although those with a weak immune system may be more susceptible
Symptoms of HPV
Most people with HPV are unaware that they have it because they never develop symptoms or health problems.
In most cases, if someone learns that they have HPV, it is because they develop genital warts. Genital warts typically appear as a small bump (or group of bumps) in the genitals. These bumps can take on many shapes and sizes, such as flat, raised, small, large, or shaped like a cauliflower.
Other times, a woman may learn she has HPV from her Pap test results.
Besides genital warts, there are no outward symptoms of HPV, and most people learn they have this infection when they develop more serious problems, such as cancer.
It is important to note, though, that someone can pass along HPV even if they do not have any signs or symptoms.
It is possible to perform a genital or oral swab to determine if someone has HPV. Routinely, HPV tests are part of the Pap screening for cervical cancer and are typically used for screening women over the age of 25.
How to Treat HPV
There is no cure for HPV. In most cases, though, HPV goes away on its own within 2 years without causing any health problems. However, when it does not go away, it can cause complications such as genital warts or cancer.
For those with genital warts due to HPV, they can be treated through your healthcare provider or with prescription medicine.
If genital warts are left untreated, they may go away on their own, stay the same size, or increase in size or number.
HPV can also cause certain types of cancer, such as cervical or cancers of the vagina, vulva, anus, or penis. Some people may also develop oropharyngeal cancer, which affects the back of the throat.
Getting routine cancer screenings, such as Pap tests, can go a long way in finding problems before the cancer develops.
Additionally, there is a vaccine for HPV, which is a great way to protect yourself from this infection.
Protect Yourself from HPV Complications
HPV is the most common STI worldwide and currently does not have a cure. For many people, HPV does not cause any health problems and goes away on its own within 2 years. However, for others, health problems such as genital warts or cancer may develop.
Genital warts can be treated, while cancer prevention and early detection are crucial to treating this complication. Knowing that you have HPV provides extra context for receiving these annual screenings and protecting your health. For those in Dubai looking to monitor their sexual health, the STD screening tests at DNA Health & Wellness Dubai range from AED 200 to AED 1,400, depending on how many STDs you want to test for, offering a test package for everyone.