Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) – Episode 51, To Your Health with Dr. Jim Morrow
The most common sexually transmitted disease (STI) is the Human Papilloma Virus, or HPV. On this edition of “To Your Health,” Dr. Morrow reviews the symptoms, causes, and treatments for HPV, as well as how to live with it. “To Your Health” is brought to you by Morrow Family Medicine, which brings the care back to healthcare.
About Morrow Family Medicine, A Member of Village Medical
Morrow Family Medicine, a Member of Village Medical, is an award-winning, state-of-the-art family practice with offices in Cumming and Milton, Georgia. The practice combines healthcare information technology with old-fashioned care to provide the type of care that many are in search of today. Two physicians, three physician assistants and two nurse practitioners are supported by a knowledgeable and friendly staff to make your visit to Morrow Family Medicine, A Member of Village Medical one that will remind you of the way healthcare should be. At Morrow Family Medicine, a Member of Village Medical, we like to say we are “bringing the care back to healthcare!” The practice has been named the “Best of Forsyth” in Family Medicine in all five years of the award, is a three-time consecutive winner of the “Best of North Atlanta” by readers of Appen Media, and the 2019 winner of “Best of Life” in North Fulton County.
Village Medical offers a comprehensive suite of primary care services including preventative care, treatment for illness and injury, and management of chronic conditions such as diabetes, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and kidney disease. Atlanta-area patients can learn more about the practice here.
Dr. Jim Morrow, Morrow Family Medicine, and Host of “To Your Health with Dr. Jim Morrow”
Dr. Jim Morrow is the founder and CEO of Morrow Family Medicine. He has been a trailblazer and evangelist in the area of healthcare information technology, was named Physician IT Leader of the Year by HIMSS, a HIMSS Davies Award Winner, the Cumming-Forsyth Chamber of Commerce Steve Bloom Award Winner as Entrepreneur of the Year and he received a Phoenix Award as Community Leader of the Year from the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. He is married to Peggie Morrow and together they founded the Forsyth BYOT Benefit, a charity in Forsyth County to support students in need of technology and devices. They have two Goldendoodles, a gaggle of grandchildren and enjoy life on and around Lake Lanier.
Human Papilloma Virus
● Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common sexually transmitted virus.
o It is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the United States.
o There are more than 100 types of HPV.
o Some types don’t cause any symptoms.
o Other types cause genital warts.
o More aggressive kinds of HPV can cause cancer in both women and men.
▪ This includes cancer of the cervix, vagina, vulva, anus, penis, and throat.
● HPV is passed between people through genital or skin-to-skin contact.
o Both men and women can get HPV and pass it on.
o Often, they don’t know they have it, so they don’t realize they are passing it to other people.
o Nearly all people who have had sex will get HPV at some point in their lives.
Symptoms of HPV
● In most cases, HPV—including the kinds that cause cancer—does not have symptoms.
● The main symptom people see with some types of HPV infection is genital warts.
o Genital warts can be small or large, flat or raised.
o Sometimes they are described as looking like cauliflower.
o There can be just one, or they can appear in groups.
o They can appear on the anus, cervix, scrotum, penis, groin, or thigh.
● Another type of HPV can cause warts to develop on other parts of your body,
o such as your hands and feet.
o The types of HPV that cause warts generally do not cause cancer.
What causes HPV?
● Infection from HPV happens when the virus gets into your body.
o This most often happens during vaginal, anal, or oral sex with a person who is already infected.
o HPV is spread through skin-to-skin contact, not through bodily fluids.
How is HPV diagnosed?
● If you think you have warts in your genital area,
o call your family doctor.
o He or she will be able to diagnose it with an examination.
● For women, diagnosis of HPV often starts with abnormal results from a routine Pap test.
o When you have a Pap test (or “smear”), the doctor will take a sample of cells from your cervix.
o The sample is sent to a lab and looked at under a microscope.
▪ If abnormal cells are found, your doctor may do another Pap test and include a cervical HPV test.
▪ This test can identify many of the HPV types that can cause cervical cancer.
▪ This is the only HPV test approved by the FDA.
● If you have a type of HPV that can cause cancer, your doctor may want to perform a colposcopy.
o In this test, he or she will use a special magnifying lens to get a closer look at your cervix.
o If the tissue looks abnormal, they will cut out a small bit to perform a biopsy.
o This test will check for signs of cancer.
● There is no FDA-approved test for HPV for men.
Can HPV be prevented or avoided?
● Because HPV is such a common virus,
o it is hard to avoid it completely.
o But there are steps you can take to lower your risk.
▪ Have few sex partners.
▪ Avoid sex with people who have had many sex partners.
▪ Use condoms consistently and correctly, though they may not cover all areas of skin where the virus lives.
● HPV often shows no symptoms.
o Sometimes symptoms show up weeks or months after you’ve been infected.
o This makes it harder for you to not spread the infection.
▪ It is less common for men to develop complications from HPV.
▪ But they can spread the virus to women, where cancer from the virus is more common.
▪ So it is important to do your best to avoid HPV.
● There is an HPV vaccine available that can protect against diseases caused by HPV, including cancers. It is approved by the FDA.
● The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says girls and boys between the ages of 11 and 12 should get the vaccine.
o It is most effective when the person is vaccinated before becoming sexually active.
o Teenagers and young adults can get the vaccine, too.
o It is approved for anyone between 9 years and 26 years of age.
● The vaccine is given in multiple doses (shots) over 6 to 12 months.
o Children age 9 to 14 receive 2 doses.
o Those 15 or older receive 3 doses.
o It’s important to get all of the doses to make sure you or your child are getting the most protection from HPV infection.
● Without health insurance, vaccines can be expensive.
o The CDC’s Vaccines for Children (VFC) program provides free vaccines for some families.
o If you have low income and don’t have insurance for vaccinations, you might qualify.
● There is no cure or treatment for the virus itself.
o In many men and women, the Human Papilloma Virus goes away on its own without causing any health problems.
▪ There are treatments for the conditions the virus causes.
▪ These include genital warts,
▪ precancerous cells,
▪ and cancer.
● Genital warts must be treated by your doctor.
o Do not try to treat the warts yourself.
o Don’t use over-the-counter wart-removal products.
▪ These chemicals are not supposed to be used for genital warts.
▪ They can irritate the skin.
● If precancerous cells are found,
o the abnormal tissue is removed so it doesn’t turn into cancer.
▪ If cancer is found, treatment will vary.
▪ It will depend on
▪ the type of cancer,
▪ the stage,
▪ and the patient’s age.
Living with Human Papilloma Virus
● You may test positive for HPV without having signs of cancer or genital warts.
o Your doctor will likely want you to get a repeat Pap test every 4 to 6 months until the infection is gone.
▪ This could take up to 2 years.
● Most women who get their routine Pap tests and follow their doctor’s advice will not get cervical cancer.
o It takes a long time to develop,
▪ and regular check-ups help find issues early, before they get more serious.
info courtesy of www.familydoctor.org