There are many types of HPV that are sexually transmitted and it is one of the most common and easiest STI’s. It is estimated about 80% of sexually active adults will have HPV infection at some time in their lives. The main signs of a genital HPV infection are genital warts, but we also know that certain strains of HPV, in particular 16 and 18, can cause changes in the cells in the cervix, anus, or throat, that could lead to cancer.
These infections might have little or no signs or symptoms initially and infection can only be diagnosed by testing. In addition to cervical and anal cancers, it has now also been established that there is a link between HPV and oral/throat cancers. In the past these types of cancers were mainly found in smokers and heavy drinkers, but we have seen an increase in these cancers in people with no other risk factors, apart from oral sex.
As oral sex has become more widely practised, and is mostly unprotected, the risk of picking up HPV orally, has increased. It has also been established that if you are HIV positive or have a defective immune system , the risk for acquiring HPV and it potentially leading to cancers, is much higher.
A recent study in America concluded that about 1 in 15 Americans are infected with HPV orally and that there has been a threefold rise in oral cancers, caused, in particular by HPV type 16, one of the most aggressive types of HPV. Oral HPV infection is about 3 times more prevalent in men, compared to women
It is important to note that just having the virus doesn’t necessarily mean that you will develop cancer. from it. It is an established fact that most healthy adults usually clear the virus by themselves, although this can take many years, and in some cases this is hampered by the fact that you have a sexual partner with HPV and you keep getting reinfected.
Cervical HPV infection in women
- vaginal bleeding
- vaginal discharge
- discomfort during sex
- vaginal bleeding after menopause.
HIV positive patients with anal HPV infection
- bleeding or discomfort in the anus
- growths or lumps
- If you have any of these symptoms it is recommended you see a doctor
- persistent pain in the throat
- undiagnosed persistent lump in the mouth or throat( painful or painless)
- unexplained bleeding
- difficulty chewing or swallowing
- persistent hoarseness.
I have over 14 years experience providing sexual health screening and I offer a completely confidential, professional, non judgemental service from start to end. If you are not sure if you have been at risk, then I offer a normal consultation to discuss the possible risks and whether screening would be appropriate. We discuss and agree all costs beforehand so you know exactly where you stand and I will always provide you with clear and accurate advice based on current British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH )guidelines.