The HUMAN PAPILLOMA VIRUS (HPV) causes skin and mucous membrane (the moist lining of body cavities such as the mouth and nose that connect with the outside of the body) infections. It is passed from one person to another by skin-to-skin contact, including sexual contact.
HPV enters the body, usually through a break in the skin, and then infects the cells in the layers of the skin. The virus then replicates or multiplies in the body. The time between first contracting HPV and the appearance of lesions can be weeks to months or even years. Many don’t even know they are infected with HPV. HPV is transmitted by skin-to-skin contact. Walking barefoot in public areas such as the gym or pool can be a risk for infection with the types of HPV that cause plantar warts. A mother with a genital HPV infection may also transmit the virus to the infant during labour.
- AGE: Children and young adults are most at risk for developing common warts and flat warts.
- Genital HPV infections usually occur in teenagers and young adults.
- MULTIPLE SEXUAL PARTNERS increases risk of genital HPV infection.
- A compromised IMMUNE SYSTEM (e.g., HIV or AIDS, organ transplant recipient, patients on immune system suppressing medication) increases risk of genital HPV infection.
SYMPTOMS & COMPLICATIONS
Most HPV infections go unnoticed because they don’t cause any symptoms. The virus may have been contracted years ago and it can remain in the body for weeks, years, or even a lifetime without showing any symptoms of an infection. For those who experience symptoms, the type of symptoms depends on the type of HPV infection.
TREATMENT & PREVENTION
There is no known cure for HPV infections. However, most infections are cleared away from the body by the immune system without treatment. With several treatment options for warts, removing warts does not always eliminate the HPV infection, as warts can reappear after treatment since the virus may still be present in the body.