Human Papillomavirus

Human papillomavirus is a DNA virus belonging to the Papillomaviridae family. These virus is commonly known as HPV viruses. This is the most common sexually transmitted disease virus. It is an infection that is transmitted through skin to skin contact. There are over 100 variants of HPV, of which over 40 can be transmitted through sexual contact and affect the mouth, genitals or throat.

Highlights

So far 170 types of human papillomavirus have been identified and are divided into low-risk and high-risk types. Low-risk type HPV causes warts. High-risk types cause cancer and lesions. It was the first virus to resist glutaraldehyde. Glutaraldehyde is a powerful disinfectant used in hospitals. The HPV virus can be transmitted from the mother to the baby during pregnancy. They spread through skin-to-skin contact and sexual contact. In most cases, the immune system of humans clears the virus within a span of two years. This means that it does no harm to the individual. However, in some cases, it may take several years for symptoms to appear.

In some cases, genital HPV infection may not cause health problems. However, some types of HPV can cause genital warts and cancers of the cervical, anal, and throat.  HPV causes warts or lesions. Simply put, viruses can cause unwanted growth such as cancer. The virus causes infections of the penis, throat, cervix, mouth, anus, vulva and vagina,. Almost all cervical cancers are caused by HPV18 or HPV16.

Causes

The virus that causes HPV infection spreads through skin-to-skin contact. Most people get genital HPV infections through direct sexual contact such as vagina, anus, and oral sex.  HPV is a skin-to-skin infection and does not require sexual intercourse for infection. Many people get infected but don’t know about it. This means that you can get HPV even if one’s partner is not experiencing symptoms. In rare cases, HPV-infected mothers can infect their babies with the virus during childbirth. When this happens, the child can develop what is called recurrent respiratory papillomatosis. This is where HPV-related warts develop in the airways or throat.

HPV in India

HPV infection is the second leading cause of cervical cancer death in India. About 7 HPV viruses cause 77% vaginal cancers, 98.3% vaginal cancers, 70% anal cancers and 95% vulvar cancers. HPV of about 17,000 rupees is generated every year in India.

HPV Vaccine

The HPV vaccine is given between the ages of 9 and 13. There are two HPV vaccines in India which are Cervarix and Gardasil. The vaccine protects against 90% of genital worms in men as well as women. The vaccine is given to boys and girls 3 times every 6 months. The vaccine is given before sexual maturity.

Gardasil 9 HPV Vaccine is a gender-neutral vaccine and was launched in India in the month of September 2021. This is the only HPV vaccine approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. It was first launched in the United States in the year 2015 and protects against 19 HPV viruses.

Cost Issue of HPV Vaccine

The HPV vaccine costs about 12,000 rupees per person. There are over 6 million girls between the ages of 9 and 13 in India. It costs 56000 crore rupees just to vaccinate girls. Therefore, it is expensive.  HPV vaccines have been shown to cause side effects such as local pain and neurological problems.

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