This research paper is devoted to ensuring a clear understanding of what human papillomavirus (HPV) actually is, and to structuring the most important facts in the best way for perceiving. The problem of HPV is extremely worrying nowadays, as it touches the problem of health on a national scale and applies to the overall indicator of well-being of the society. Such a dangerous and serious disease requires a deliberated scientific approach, which could bring humanity to a confidence of preventive measures as well as to an effective vaccination. The matters of symptoms and possible negative consequences have also been examined.
Keywords: HPV, virus, infection, vaccine, cancer
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most spread infections transmitted through sexual contact, especially through vaginal and anal ones, but it can also get into the organism through oral contact. Besides, smoking, alcohol intake, and marijuana usage may become a cause of the disease. Nowadays, more than 100 types of HPV are found, and about 30 of them infect genitals (D’Souza et al., 2014). Unfortunately, there is still no medical cure for it, though human immune system can overcome this disease in eight months. During the period of infection, the HPV can even be transmitted to sexual partners through skin to skin contact, it can also infect the epithelium of the oropharynx, oral cavity, mouth, throat, and anogenital tract. Genital HPV such as vaginal, cervical, and penile infections are frequent among sexually active youth. The study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that over 80% of individuals were infected with a genital infection at least once during their life (Clarke, n.d.). Many of them will never know that they were infected, so the persistent infection would lead to pre-malignant and malignant genital defeats. Nevertheless, some people figure out such genital infections within a year or two.
The notion of HPV is considered to include a set of different related viruses, particular types of which can cause cancer. That is why they are so-called risky HPVs. The subtype of the genital HPV is oral HPV infection, which is significantly less common. Men suffer from those diseases more often than women. It was discovered that oral infection is more frequent among those people who have ever had an oral contact, and who had many sexual partners. On the other hand, oral sex is not a reason for not detecting oral HPV infection. However, there is something positive about such a seemingly terrible disease. Patients diagnosed with HPV-positive have a significantly better life expectancy and overall survival (3-year, which is 82%) than patients with HPV-negative (57%), which is really surprising (D’Souza, Agrawal, Halpern, Bodison, & Gillison, 2009). The paper will discuss the importance of HPV diagnosis and the statistical data, as well as the methods of vaccination of this disease, the unpredictable impact of which provokes a great anxiety among the population.
Symptoms and Possibility of Prevention
HPV physical symptoms include different warts that start to appear on the genitals in a few months after penetration of the infection, which is frequently asymptomatic. Besides, one more and really noticeable symptom is a constant growth of skin cells, i.e. tissue growth, that later can turn into malignant tumor and lead to cervical cancer. Thus, most of infected individuals often do not know of their being disease carriers. It was found that almost 40% of HPV infected women were asymptomatic (Fakhry & D’Souza, 2013). Therefore, it is advisable to use condoms consistently as a precaution measure. Though, still the virus can be transmitted through the areas not covered by a condom. Unfortunately, some of HPV infected women will develop cervical, penile, and anal cancer, because HPV infections are extremely persistent. Such a big number of real and significant threats to life and health lead to the idea of their prevention. Can HPV and related infections be prevented? The best and payless way to eliminate the genital HPV infection risk is not to come into the sex contact with another person, while a mutually monogamous relationship with a single and uninfected partner is a preventive way for sexually active people. It is hard to detect the infection in people who had many previous sex contacts. Generally speaking, the risk of infection among men aged from14 to 69 years is nearly three times higher than among women. The difference between the sexes is still more the case with the HPV-16, that strain that causes most cases of oral cancer associated with papilloma virus (D’Souza et al., 2014). However, girls and women, especially of the reproductive age, may also suffer, so it is highly recommended to be vaccinated against HPV, in order to reduce the risk of cervical and other forms of cancer. It would be better for them to get vaccinated in the age between 11 to 26, in order not to get an infection when they take a step into a most sexually active age, which is from 11 to 26 years old. At the same time, it sounds somewhat reassuring and optimistic that the virus disappears spontaneously in most of cases when speaking about women and girls.
- Polymerase chain reaction. The main method to establish the diagnosis of a particular type of HPV virus is a PCR reaction. Without going into the mechanism for determining the PCR reaction, it can be said that it is highly efficient, fast, and inexpensive. However, the PCR reaction can give a false positive result as well, especially if the conditions of its conduct are violated (even the push of the table on which the research is being conducted can lead to a false result).
- The medical examination of gynecologist or urologist, during which the genital warts or other warts in the groin area can be detected.
- The cytology of a smear taken during the gynecological and urological examination. At the same time, a physician assistant determines the presence or absence of abnormal cells, which normally should not be there, as they appear during the development of the disease.
- Histological study of the microscopic piece of tissue taken during the gynecological or urological examination.
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HPV vaccination is a group of biological products intended for the prevention of diseases caused by certain strains of human papillomavirus. Vaccines produced by a number of firms have appeared as a result of studying the virus and the development of vaccines, and with the help of the biopharmacology and immunopharmacology methods, which are implemented primarily through a network of pharmaceutical establishments.
Nowadays, more than 40 countries have already implemented prophylactic HPV vaccination programs (Fakhry & D’Souza, 2013). These initiatives have been widely encouraged by such public health organizations as the World Health Organization and claimed to be highly effective means for preventing HPV and the related infections. The recent development of highly effective HPV quadrivalent vaccine (Clarke, n.d.), such as Gardasil and bivalent Cervarix, make the situation not so hopeless. People have to take it in three doses over 6 months only.
They are called quadrivalent and bivalent because they protect against HPV of different types such as 6, 11, 16, and 18 respectively, and they can prevent being infected with HPV if a person is vaccinated prior to being exposed to the virus (D’Souza et al., 2009). Seven years ago, a public national vaccination program was implemented in Australia. This program resulted in the definite progress: the vaccines can reduce the need for additional medicine. Though, it is also vital to know that clinical trials to evaluate the efficiency of the quadrivalent vaccine in protecting against oral infection are still not finished. However, in 2009, the clinical trials of assessing the potential for HPV vaccines in preventing penile infection and anogenital warts are in progress now. Like any other inactivated vaccine, it may become possible to get the following reaction in the first 2-3 days after the injection: pain at the injection site, swelling, redness, itching, and general reactions – malaise, fever. It is important to bear in mind that the HPV vaccines are intended to prevent diseases caused by HPV, but not for the treatment. HPV vaccines do not protect against diseases caused by it.
The development of papillomas can also trigger stress, viral infections (including herpes), influenza, as long as long treatment includes drugs that suppress the immune system. The modern medicine has not yet learned to kill the HPV virus. Therefore, if the human papilloma virus was detected at least once, it will remain in the body for life. By reducing the immunity of the person, the genital warts will be formed again, so people will continue to infect others. It leads to the conclusion of the diverse hardships and problems of the frequent concern about one’s health and sexual life control.
If further research and wide surveillance clarify the relationship of HPV infection and the risk of HIV infection, the use of the available HPV vaccines can contribute to the prevention of HIV infection, in addition to the prevention of cancer.
To sum up, it would be worthy to notify that the research of HPV infection is of vital importance, as it stands in one line with such extremely hard for curing illnesses as AIDS and HIV, and the future life of an infected person will be hard to call calm and untroubled. Besides, the vaccine does not have the final say. The life and health, especially regarding men, can be insured by the vaccine, but not for 100 percent.
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It is worth recalling that the personal and social implications of the above mentioned issues have not been studied to date. Besides, the further researches will continue to be conducted, which will develop more and more easily understood web-based, printed, and audiovisual materials about HPV and its vaccination, which have to point out the prevalence of asymptomatic HPV infection. Despite the gaps in the current knowledge base, it is already enough to hold an ongoing work on the risk factors and psychosocial effects. The increasing threats of HPV-related diseases make a great interest to patients and their partners, so all the necessary measures are being undertaken to provide the public with accurate information about HPV. Such clinical trial data is of vital importance, as it is the most correct way to test vaccine effectiveness. More profound information the patients can obtain at NIAID Office of Communications and Government Relations (Bethesda, Maryland), and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Atlanta, Georgia).