THE HPV VIRUS hits males and females of all ages but is most commonly found in the 15-24 age group. In women, the highest and deadliest form of the virus can lead to cervical cancer and thousands of needless deaths each year. (Photos are generic representations of age groups more susceptible to the virus and are not actual victims.)
Before the year is over, approximately 288,000 women worldwide will die unnecessarily from the genital Human Papillomavirus (HPV). We know these women. Some of them are our mothers, sisters, cousins, and best friends. Even you could be a potential victim of this prevalent, yet preventable genital virus.
The HPV is easily contracted by a male/female who carries this disease through any type of genital skin-to-skin contact. Condoms and other forms of birth control won’t prevent or reduce the spread of this virus.
During the course of the HPV’s lengthy history, a recent discovery linked the virus with other sexually transmitted diseases. In 2005, alarming statistics revealed that up to 20 million people carried this virus at any given time and many unknowingly passed it on to their partner, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By getting to the root of this problem, we are finding out how to prevent more deaths from occurring and disease from spreading.
Over the 100 different types of the HPV (varying in severity), about 30 strains of this disease are sexually transmitted. These 30 strains are broken down into two categories of low and high risk. For women, the highest and deadliest form of this virus can lead to cervical cancer.
This cancer is almost always caused by the HPV infection, which is predominately in those with an immune disorder. For others infected, this virus can cause genital disease, developing into pre-cancerous legions. For men and women, this virus can turn into genital warts (a low- risk strain).
Some HPV strains are harmless and for most people infected the virus eventually goes away, especially in women under 30. Yet there are still repercussions in having this virus, so why even take the risk?
The incubation period of the HPV is from the beginning of infection until any symptoms appear. This incubation period may be anywhere from a few weeks to a full year. Because there are no obvious symptoms of the HPV (except visible genital warts), the virus goes unnoticed in some women until it is too late.
Is that possibly why the HPV spreads rapidly, because it is sometimes overlooked and underestimated? Whatever the answer is, 5,000 women in the United States are still dying annually as a result. Cervical cancer is the second leading cause of death in women; and “HPV is the cause of virtually all cancers of the cervix, about 80 percent of vaginal cancers, 50 percent of penile cancers and a majority of anal cancers,” states the American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology.
Although there is no cure for HPV, one of the best solutions for women over 30 years old who have the virus is the same for women who are unaware of what HPV is: visit the OB/GYN to schedule a Pap test and HPV DNA test. Studies prove that scheduling both tests are the complete, and accurate way to find out if one has HPV, and to reduce further risks.
A Pap test is a screening to search for abnormal cell changes in the cervix while the HPV DNA test looks for the specific DNA of the HPV inside the cells and can check for high-risk HPV types related to cervical cancer.
For younger women 15-24 years old, about 70 percent of them make up approximately the six million new cases of genital HPV every year in the United States. These staggering numbers reveal that we need solutions and HPV vaccination options available to the young people; the same goes for girls 9-13 years old.
Some of our children are growing up too fast, experiencing too much and there is not one answer to solve all the problems we may be facing.
But one of the best ways to prevent future exposure of the HPV in young girls and boys is to consult with a health care provider about vaccination treatments at the parents’ discretion.
Aside from these examinations and consultations, the real prevention methods start with knowledge.
Realizing that abstinence is the ideal method for avoiding the HPV altogether, taking precautionary methods means preventing the further spreading of disease, such as scheduling regular doctor visits and maintaining a clean lifestyle while being aware that the wide spread of HPV is real and, for some, fatal.
Before any more deaths occur, we can put an end to this virus. Instead of spreading the HPV, let’s spread the word that this virus exists and hopefully end this deadly cycle.
The clock is ticking; it’s up to us because in the end only we can stop the spread. The year is almost over. For more information on HPV: http://www.revolutionhealth.com-type in HPV; http://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/default.htm or http://www.cancer.gov/
Contact Sherri Keaton on issues dealing with young people; email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.