HPV might not a popular acronym compared to HIV, but Human Papillomavirus can bring as much threat as the latter. Some of us have heard about it from TV commercials dealing with cervical cancer awareness, others get some tidbits at school or magazine articles. But, except for doctors or health care workers, do we really know about the true nature of this virus ?
HPV lives in the body’s epithelial cells. These cells are flat and thin cells found on the skin’s surface and also on the surface of the vagina, anus, vulva, cervix, penis head, mouth, and throat. Of the 100 HPV types, about 60 types cause warts on areas such as the hands or feet. The other 40 or so types of HPV are sexually transmitted and are drawn to the body’s mucous membranes, such as the moist layers around the anal and genital areas. There are types of HPV which cause abnormal cell changes and can lead to cervical cancer as well as cancer of the vulva, anus, and penis. Virtually all cervical cancers are caused by these high-risk HPV viruses.
Some people think that HPV is a very specific form of virus; actually, HPV is a very common virus and, contrary to many people’s beliefs, is not the cancer itself. Read more!