Human Papillomavirus: How It Can Lead to Cancer

Sex is probably the greatest physical pleasure available to the human being. Unfortunately, there are also many things about it that can go terribly wrong. Sexually transmitted diseases are some of the most difficult to control and eradicate. In a species that reproduces sexually and enjoys doing this in an increasingly liberal way, it becomes extremely difficult to establish and legitimize behavioral constraints on the grounds of health and safety. Consequently, HIV, human papillomavirus infection, syphilis and several other STDs continue to spread quickly among unsuspecting populations and affect the lives of new victims. HPV infection is one of particular concern to public health authorities because it’s very prevalent and can trigger devastating consequences. HPV infection is known to trigger some types of cancer, and there’s usually no way to know if and when this is going to happen.human papillomavirus

For the most part, HPV infection is harmless and often doesn’t show any symptoms at all. However, the virus may stay in the body for years and gradually predispose the victim to various types of cancer. The specific type usually depends on the region of the body where the virus has been in contact with the host victim. It may be in the mouth, vagina and penis – the most common body parts for the virus to settle.

Symptoms (if any) usually begin as a precancerous lesion, which may or may not develop into full-blown cancer, or a wart. Warts are typically benign but highly contagious. Genital warts occur in about 1% of the population; respiratory papillomatosis is even rarer.

It would be a big mistake to consider HPV infection harmless just because it doesn’t cause pain or in most cases comes with no symptoms. HPV is estimated to cause up to 90% of cervical cancer cases. It is also linked to more than 40% of the victims of other types of cancer – vaginal, penis, and anal cancer.

Public health authorities are well aware of the risks and promote compulsory vaccination programs for children and/or early adolescents to protect them from the virus. Nevertheless, the papillomavirus continues to spread and claim new victims. It is the number 1 sexually transmitted disease worldwide, and there is currently no cure or treatment for active infections.

One of the things that make HPV so difficult to stop is the fact that there isn’t just one type of human papillomavirus; there are more than 40 types that are sexually transmittable. In total, hundreds of different types of this virus exist. Medical literature classifies each type according to their pathogenitity towards humans.

To make things worse, condoms are not highly effective against HPV and can only reduce the risk of infection. The viruses are transmitted from one person to another through skin to skin contact, thus, it’s a common transaction during a sexual act. Currently, the best defense against the virus is a vaccine before one becomes sexually active. HPV vaccines may help prevent up to 40% of vulvar, 80% of anal and 60% of vaginal cancer.