HPV – prevention is better than cure

What is HPV ?

Human papilloma virus (HPV) is a very common sexually transmitted disease which can cause cancer. Although there is a safe and effective vaccine available; still, it causes 70% of cervical cancers.

HPV is a group of more than one hundred fifty related viruses. It is transmitted through intercourse and with an increased number of sexual partners the risk of HPV infections intensifies. The infection usually progresses subclinical, meaning it does not show any symptoms, and the immune system can fight the infection typically within two years. If the infection is prolonged, it can cause more serious health conditions. HPV type 6 and type 11 can cause genital warts which are unpleasant, but generally have a good prognosis. 15 types are known to cause cancer, including type 16 and type 18 which are the main causes of cervical cancer.

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The combination of two critical tests can help to prevent or early detect cervical cancer. Regular HPV DNA tests and Papanicolau smear (Pap Smear) are recommended. HPV DNA testing is the reliable way, with 90% accuracy, by detecting the viruses DNA. It is able to identify HPV type 16 and type 18, which pose the highest risk for cervical cancer. The Pap Smear (Thin Prep) screens cells that have already started to change.


Besides regular screenings, risk of infection can be reduced by limiting number of sexual partners and getting vaccinated. HPV vaccines can prevent infections with notorious type 6, 11, 16 and 18 viruses.

The HPV vaccine consists of three doses, girls and boys from the age of 9 years can be inoculated. Even sexually active women can still benefit from the vaccine; although it is likely they were exposed to the HPV virus, they might not have contracted the types mainly responsible for cervical cancer or warts.

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