Written by : Dr.M.D.Mazumdar, MD
The Human Papilloma Virus is a sexually transmitted virus which can cause various symptoms, including the formation of genital warts. It is also closely associated with development of cervical cancers.
Also called condyloma acuminata or venereal warts, genital warts are soft, flesh colored bumps or growths that occur mainly in the genital regions - the vagina, cervix and urethra in females and the penis and scrotum in males.
They can also occur in the mouth after oral sex or in the rectum and anus after anal sex.
About two-thirds of all persons who have sex with an infected person will have warts after 3 months of sexual contact.
It is estimated that about 20 million people are infected with the HPV virus in the USA.
Sometimes the warts may be coarse and broad-based - small cauliflower-like growths around the genital organs. Occasionally,the warts may be flat, or very slightly raised above the skin surface. When they grow inside the vagina, they may blend with the mucus membrane and may be very difficult to identify without special techniques.
Other symptoms of HPV infection that may be present are:
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Currently, no specific HPV tests are available for men. But HPV DNA sampling can be done in scrapings of cells taken from the tip of the penis.
Unfortunately, there is no permanent cure of HPV infection. Once infected, the virus remains in the man or woman for life. But genital warts can be treated and removed. Occasionally though, warts tend to recur.
Genital warts can be treated by application of medicines or by surgery.
The biggest and most well known complication of HPV infection is the development of cervical cancer. It has been seen that more than 90% of women with cervical dysplasia are also infected with the HPV virus.
Other complications that can occur are infection of the baby in pregnant woman and the development of warts in the baby's throat. Warts in the vagina can also cause difficulty in normal delivery.
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