What is Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
- Group of viruses that affects both males and females. There are 100 varieties of HPVs with 40 of them transmissible through sexual contact.
- 85% of people will get HPV at some point of their life.
How HPV is transmitted
- Transmitted through genital, skin-to-skin contact during sexual activity. Very rarely, during delivery from the infected mother to the baby
- HPV CANNOT be passed by sitting on toilet seats or touching the door knobs
Higher risk of infection
- When engaging in multiple sexual partners
- Weakened immune system due to HIV / AIDS or immune suppressing drugs
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Cervical Cancer
Most HPV infections clear up on their own, with 80% - 90% recovery within 2 years
- HOWEVER, certain HPV types can cause persistent infection leading to cancer and other diseases over time
- Almost all cervical cancers are linked to genital infection with HPV
- Sub types 16 & 18, 70% of the time leads to Cervical Cancer and Sub types 6 & 11, 90% of the time leads to Genital Warts.
- It can also cause several other types of cancers, such as anal cancer, mouth cancer, throat cancer, vaginal cancer, vulvar cancers and penile cancer.
HPV has no treatment or cure
- Best way is to get vaccinated
- HPV vaccines prevent certain types of HPV viruses which includes those linked to HPV-related cancers
- Speak to your family physician for suitable vaccinations
- It can be done in your nearest family clinic
- Potentially life saving as it can prevent cervical cancer
- Approved for use in females aged 9 to 26 years years old
- The vaccines are most effective if given before first sexual exposure
- Women who are sexually active may still benefit from the vaccine, as they may have yet been exposed to the HPV sub-types
- Even with vaccinations done, STILL go for regular pap smear or HPV DNA testing
- HPV vaccines can protect against cervical cancer but does NOT mean you will not get it.... REGULAR SCREENING IS STILL MANDATORY : Pap smear (Women 25 - 69 years old) and HPV DNA test (Women from 30 years old)
By : Dr Chen Yiming
Family Physician, MBBS (Singapore), GDFM (NUS), GDFP Dermatology (NUS)