Human papillomavirus or HPV (Human papillomavirus) is one of the most common infections in the world. The main danger of human papillomavirus is the risk of developing cancer when infected with a carcinogenic strain.
Oncogenic types of HPV are transmitted through sexual contact. But, unlike other genital infections, they have separate symptoms.
Doctors know over a hundred varieties of papillomavirus. HPV infection with increased carcinogenicity occurs sexually. Such strains of the virus provoke the development of epithelial dysplasia and adenocarcinoma (cervical cancer).
Transmission of oncogenic viral infection occurs with unprotected sexual contact (vaginal or anal). Infection with oral sex or petting (stroking the genitals of both partners) is much less common.
It is possible for a virus to enter the body through a kiss with its carrier. In this case, laryngeal papillomatosis develops. Neoplasms appear on the surface of the throat, in the oral cavity.
The risk of contracting a highly oncogenic type of HPV by contact and household is extremely low. The contact pathway of infection is characteristic of non-oncogenic strains of human papillomavirus infection.
Another method of transmitting HPV is perinatal: when the baby becomes infected during pregnancy or during the passage of the birth canal.
Who is at risk
Given the high contagiousness of human papillomavirus infection, everyone who leads an active sex life is at risk. However, in most cases, the immune system copes with the cells of the virus, blocking their reproduction and preventing the development of the disease.
But with a decrease in the body's defenses, virus cells integrate into the DNA of epithelial cells, provoking the development of papillomatosis and other pathologies.
Classification of papillomavirus infection
In total, about one hundred and twenty varieties of HPV are isolated. Depending on oncogenicity (the ability to transform into an oncological disease), all strains of papillomavirus are classified into:
- HPV of high oncogenic risk (labeled in laboratories as high or WRC;
- HPV low onkoriska.
Oncogenic HPV types include the following strains: HPV 16, HPV 18, HPV 31, HPV 33, HPV 35, HPV 39, HPV 45, HPV 51, HPV 52, HPV 56, HPV 58, HPV 59, HPV68. Among them, the most active are 16.18 and 45 types. It is these types of papillomavirus infections that cause cervical cancer.
Can transform into cancer: HPV 6, HPV 11, HPV42, HPV 43, HPV 44.
Oncology-safe HPV 1, HPV2, HPV3, HPV 5, HPV 10, HPV 27, HPV 53, HPV 54, HPV 55, HPV 62 and HPV 67.
Papillomavirus diseases and their symptoms
The main signs of infection with papillomavirus infection are the appearance of neoplasms (warts, papillomas, as well as the detection of cervical dysplasia).
Their appearance is associated with infection with 1 -5, 10, 28, 49 strain of papillomavirus. They are classified into:
- Flat (youthful) – neoplasms, slightly elevated above the surface of the skin, flesh-colored, usually occur in adolescents during the puberty period;
- Sponges (plantar growths) – a neoplasm that grows in depth, as a result of which the nerve endings are compressed, and pain occurs;
- Vulgar – a rigid spherical neoplasm with a scaly surface, appear on the elbow bends, patella, on the palms and fingers.
They are located in the genital area, anal opening, on the lips and in the oral cavity. They provoke a 6,11,13,16,18,31,35 strain. Transmitted through sexual contact. In rare cases, the cause of infection can be non-compliance with personal hygiene rules: use of a public toilet or shower, shared towels, washcloths, soap.
Possible infection of the child from the mother during childbirth. However, a sufficient level of immune protection of the baby helps him to avoid the development of infection.
The eleventh type of papillomavirus infection is responsible for the occurrence of multiple benign neoplasms in the vocal cords. Often, newborns become infected with it if the mother has genital warts.
The development of the disease is characterized by the appearance of flat bodily plaques around the genitals, resembling youthful growths. At risk are men who prefer a frequent change of sexual partners. Papulosis is diagnosed with infection of 16,18,31,33,51 and 54 strains.
The greatest oncorisk for women is infection with 16.18,31,33,39,42,43,55,57,59,61, 66,67 types of papillomavirus. These strains are able to transform the epithelial cells of the uterine mucosa into cervical intraepithelial neoplasia – uterine dysplasia, which develops into adenocarcinoma.
Sixteenth and eighteenth strains of papillomavirus infection cause cancer of the penile epithelium.
Some groups of scientists are of the opinion that any oncological disease, regardless of its location, is caused by infection with human papillomavirus. This theory is based on the fact that oncology is the transformation of epithelial cells of the skin or mucous membrane. And carcinogenesis of certain types of papillomavirus leads to the development of dysplasia of epithelial tissues, which are a precancerous condition. The proposed theory receives its full confirmation in the phased development of cervical cancer, the cause of which is a dangerous HPV strain.
There are separate studies on the relationship between HPV and breast or throat cancer. However, these developments have not yet been recognized by the international community. However, scientists of the responsible group are confident that soon the international medical community will recognize tissue malignancy as a result of the development of human papillomavirus infection.
Diagnosis of HPV and its price
Any research is carried out in the direction of a doctor. And the initial consultation is accompanied by a routine examination by a gynecologist or urologist. If during the examination the doctor has suspicions or he detects suspicious neoplasms, a referral for clinical studies is issued. You can rent them in a specialized laboratory. The cost of the analysis depends on the clinic and city of residence.
Polymerase chain reaction
The basic method for determining the presence of human papillomavirus in the blood is a polymerase chain reaction, abbreviated PCR. It is used to detect HPV strains prone to malignancy.
PCR analysis is a scraping of three points (cervical canal, vagina, cervix) – for women and scraping from the surface of the penis mucosa for men.
Decryption of the analysis should be carried out by a qualified oncologist. An incorrect PCR test result can be caused by any violation of the material collection procedure, even as insignificant as swaying the table on which it is made. Moreover, an untruthful result can be either false positive or false negative.
And the error did not depend on either reagents or modern equipment.
In addition to quantitative indicators, using a comprehensive PCR analysis, genotyping of highly oncogenic HPV strains can be carried out. Such typing allows not only to establish that a person is infected with papillomavirus infection, but also to evaluate the level of oncogenicity of the virus.
Digene – testing
Innovative analysis, which is becoming increasingly popular. Digene is used to screen for papillomavirus cell concentration. This test allows you to determine the degree of oncogenicity of the HPV strain that affects the patient.
Often, Digene – testing is used in a comprehensive study, along with cytological analysis.
A gynecologist takes a cytological smear during a routine examination of the patient. There are two names of the technique – Cytology and liquid cytology.
In the laboratory, using a microscope, a qualitative (quality) screen of altered cells is carried out to establish their tendency to malignancy. With normal microflora, there are no pathologically altered cells, and their presence indicates the development of the disease. If changes in epithelial cells are detected, a diagnosis of uterine dysplasia is made.
Unlike cytology, a histological examination (biopsy) analyzes a piece of tissue that is taken during a urological or gynecological examination. With the help of a powerful microscope, the laboratory assistant evaluates the qualitative indicators of changes in the epithelial tissue fragment.
In order not to miss the initial stage of infection with high carcinogenic risk papillomavirus, all women are advised to undergo a routine examination by a gynecologist and take a cytology test. The frequency of testing depends on the age of the patient:
- Women under thirty with a negative HPV test should repeat the study after three to four years. If altered epithelial cells are detected, a reassessment is scheduled after eight to ten months. With the progression of the disease, additional studies will be required: colposcopy, biopsy. According to the results of additional tests, the doctor makes an appointment;
- Women from thirty to sixty years old with negative results, a second study is carried out after five years. When confirming the presence of HPV with a high degree of malignancy, a biopsy and colposcopy are additionally prescribed;
- For women older than sixty years, in the absence of positive results for HPV, repeated studies are not prescribed. This is associated with an extremely low risk of developing cancer of the uterus at this age.
HPV therapy with high oncogenicity
When you start treating a human papillomavirus infection, remember: you won’t be able to completely get rid of it. The main direction of antiviral therapy is the deactivation of HPV, the reduction of its quantitative indicators, and the activation of the body's immune system.
Papillomavirus therapy includes:
- Removal of a neoplasm (benign or oncogenic);
- The use of antiviral drugs;
- Strengthening the body's defenses.
Particular care should be taken in the treatment of tumors in the genital area.
The main route of infection with papillomavirus is through open sexual contact. Sex in a condom reduces the likelihood of infection, although it does not guarantee 100% protection.
The risk of HPV infection directly depends on the number of sexual partners. Monogamous (family) relationships are one of the best defenses against papilloma virus.
The immune system acts as a barrier and eliminates HPV, preventing it from taking root. The transferred HPV strain in most cases protects against its repeated occurrence. Vaccination against the most oncogenic types of human papillomavirus infection is based on this principle of prevention.
The following precautions will also protect against HPV infection:
- Use of personal hygiene products in public places (bath, shower, pool);
- Strong immunity;
- Lack of bad habits;
- Alternation of physical activity and rest;
- Reception of multivitamin complexes twice a year (autumn, spring).
Remember, simple precautions not only save your money, but also can prevent the development of such a terrible disease as cancer.