Human Papillomavirus Infection
HUMAN PAPILLOMAVIRUS INFECTION
Genital human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is a common sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by human papillomavirus. This is a group of more than one hundred viruses, at least thirty-five of which can infect the genital tissues. HPV is spread by direct contact of infected tissue with uninfected tissue during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. An estimated 50 percent of sexually active adults have been infected with one or more of the HPV types that cause genital infections. At any time, an estimated 20 million Americans have genital HPV infections. About 5.5 million Americans get a new genital HPV infection each year.
Most types of HPV that infect genital tissues do not cause any symptoms. Certain types of HPV cause genital warts that usually appear as soft, moist, pink, or red swellings that grow quickly. Several types of genital HPV infection (not usually the types that cause warts) can increase the risk of cervical cancer in women and other genital cancers in both women and men. A small percentage of women with certain types of abnormal cells will develop cancer if these cells are not removed. Frequent Pap smears and careful medical follow-up, with treatment if necessary, can help ensure that precancerous cells caused by HPV infection do not develop into life-threatening cervical cancer. Treatment can eliminate genital warts, but it does not necessarily eliminate genital HPV infection.
Latex or polyurethane condoms can help protect both the male and the female partner from most STDs. However, genital HPV, including genital warts, may be present in areas not covered by the condom, resulting in transmission of infection to a new person.
Allison L. Greenspan
Joel R. Greenspan
(see also: Sexually Transmitted Diseases )
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1998). "1998 Guidelines for Treatment of Sexually Transmitted Diseases." Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 47(RR-1):88–95.
Koutsky, L. A., and Kiviat, N. B. (1999). "Genital Human Papillomavirus." In Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 3rd edition, eds. K. Holmes, P. Mardh, P. Sparling et al. New York: McGraw-Hill.
human papillomavirus (HPV), any of a family of more than 60 viruses that cause various growths, including plantar warts and genital warts, a sexually transmitted disease. Detectable warts can be or removed, usually by chemicals, freezing, or laser, but often recur. Intralesional alpha interferon has been effective in the treatment of genital warts. Genital warts, sometimes called condylomata acuminata, are soft and often occur in clusters. They can occur internally or externally, but even in the absence of warts the virus may be present and transmittable. Problems can result from untreated warts, which can grow quite large, or, in rare cases, from infection of an infant during delivery. In addition, certain strains of HPV are associated with cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, and anus, and HPV 16 has been shown to be associated with some forms of Kaposi's sarcoma (see AIDS) and throat cancer. A vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2006 can protect a woman against those strains that cause most cases of cervical cancer and genital warts, and a study has shown it may also protect against related throat cancers; HPV vaccination is now recommended for both girls and boys beginning at 11 to 12 years of age.