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HPV - (gential human papillomavirus) is the most common sexually transmitted infection.  There are more than 40 HPV types that can infect the genital areas of both females and males.  These HPV types can also infect the mouth and throat.  Anyone who has ever had genital contact, skin to skin contact, vaginal, anal or oral sex with another person, may have HPV. 

Most people with HPV do not develop symptoms or health problems.  In 90% of cases, the body's immune system clears HPV naturally within 2 years.  However, certain types of HPV can cause genital warts, rarely these types can also cause warts in the throat.  Other HPV types can cause cervical cancer, including cancers of the valva, vagina, penis, anus, head, neck, also can include tongue, tonsils and throat.

HPV can cause normal cells on infected skin to turn abnormal.  Most of the time, you cannot see or feel these changes.  In most cases, the body fights off HPV naturally, and the infected cells then go back to normal.  In cases when the body does not fight off HPV, HPV can cause visible changes in the form of genital warts or cancer. Warts can appear within weeks or months after getting HPV.  Cancer often takes years to develop after getting HPV.

Testing can be done for the types of HPV that may lead to cervical cancer.  There is no general test for men or women to check HPV on the genitals or in the mouth or throat.  There is no treatment for the virus itself, but there are treatments for the disease that HPV can cause, such as visible genital warts.  Cervical cancer is most treatable when it is diagnosed and treated early, women who get routine pap tests and follow up as recommended by their physician can identify problems before cancer develops. 

Recommendations from our practice include Gardaisl® the only cervical cancer vaccine that helps protect against 4 types of HPV.  The FDA has approved Gardasil® for girls and women ages 9 to 26 years of age.  It is best to get the shot before the start of sexual activity.  Gardaisl® is given in a series of three injections.