O papillomavirus human immunodeficiency virus (HPV) are sexual contact. Some of them are responsible for some types of cancerand other conditions, such as genital warts. But of the more than 150 types that exist, only 13 are oncogenic (associated with the onset of some type of cancer) and only 2 types (16 and 18) are the cause of most cancers of the cervix. uterus
However, andl HPV It is not something out of the ordinary: 80% of sexually active people will have contact with the virus at some point in its life. And what's more: the usual is to get in touch with him in youth, shortly after starting sexual activity.
For all this, the vaccine is the only effective means of prevention. Many countries have already implemented vaccination for adolescent girls and possibly also for boys; Ideally, it should be given before the first sexual intercourse.
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HPV: disinformation and social alarm
As detailed information about the virus is obtained, the alertness to the possible dangers of the virus increases in the population. contagion. Misinformation about this problem leads to a frequent error: automatically associating virus infection with cancer suffering in the future. But to what extent should we be alarmed?
1 What is human papillomavirus?
We are talking about an exclusively human pathogen. That is, there is no animal reservoir. There are over 150 types, but not all are dangerous. In fact, most are not. 42 types are genital.
The symptoms of cervical cancer are detailed in the WHO as follows: vaginal bleeding between menstrual periods or abnormal bleeding after intercourse; back, leg or pelvic pain; fatigue, weight loss, loss of appetite; vaginal discomfort or vaginal discharge; or swelling of only one leg.
2. How is it transmitted?
Papillomaviruses are transmitted by sexual contact via skin or skin. mucus. That is, there is no need for penetration in the sexual relationship for transmission to occur.
3. How many types are there?
Of the more than 150 that exist, some are known as high risk of cancer: 16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 56, 58, 59, 68, 69, 73 and 82
The most important are type 16 and type 18, because between the two are responsible for 80% of cancers.
As for the low risk, type 6 and type 11 viruses are responsible for the production of genital warts These can also cause respiratory papillomatosis (tumors in the airways that go from the nose and mouth to the lungs).
4. What types of cancer are associated?
Image: Cervical cancer cells under the microscope / iStock.
Papillomaviruses are responsible for 70% of cancers of the cervix, but it is also associated with tumors of the anus, vulva, vagina and penis.
5. What is the risk of getting cancer?
Have any of the types of high risk virus does not imply that you will suffer cancer in the future. The immune system is most likely to end up killing the virus on its own if the person is not vaccinated.
In fact, the World Health Organization he warns that the majority, around 90%, disappears two years after being acquired. In addition, many years can pass from this injury to the derivation of a cancer, for example, cervix. In fact, the cervical cancerFor example, it usually takes 15 to 20 years to develop in women with a normal immune system.
6. How is it prevented?
There are only three completely effective prevention routes: lifelong sexual abstinence, monogamy (only and both parts without any of them being in contact with the virus), and vaccination.
7. When should the vaccine be given?
The ideal is to get vaccinated before starting sexual activityin early adolescence. The vaccine is the only method that provides lasting immunity to the papillomavirus it contains.
In addition, it should be noted that the vaccine has no therapeutic effect. It does not treat viruses already acquired, it only protects against hiring them from administering the vaccine onwards.
8. What types of vaccines are there?
The vaccines of 2 strains protect against serotypes 16 and 18, the most dangerous, since they cause most of the cancers of the neck of the uterus. A of 4 strains protects against the above and, in addition, against types 6 and 11 (those that cause genital warts). And finally, that of 9 strains protects against 5 strains other than those already mentioned: 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58. Thus, up to 98% of the different cancers associated with HPV
9. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the vaccine?
The side effect with more, besides puncture pain, is headache.
In addition, when administering the vaccine, we could be close to eradicating for the first time a type of cancer, the cervix.
10. What about men?
The experts' recommendation is to apply the vaccine even for children, even if the vaccine for them is not funded. The reason it is not is that it was thought that men could benefit from the girls' group immunity. But this is not the case in the case, for example, of homosexuals. They are unprotected if they are not vaccinated, because they will have relations with one another, with people who are not vaccinated.