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Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can occur in the cervix, anus, external genitals such as the penis or vulva, or internal genitals such as the vagina, as well as some parts of the mouth and throat.

Some types of HPV cause genital warts. Other types of HPV are more serious and may cause cancer of the cervix, anus, vagina or internal genitals, vulvar or external genitals and surrounding area, or penis, as well some parts of the mouth and throat.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can occur in the cervix, anus, penis or external genitals and surrounding area, vagina or internal genitals, vulva, as well as some parts of the mouth and throat. There are over 40 different types of HPV that can cause infections in these areas.


Some types of HPV cause genital warts. Other types of HPV are more serious and may cause cancer of the cervix, anus, vagina or internal genitals, penis or external genitals and surrounding area, vulva, and mouth and throat. This page has information only about HPV types that may cause cancer.


HPV is common in British Columbia and can be managed.

 

If you have HPV, it is common to not have any symptoms. If you do get symptoms, the type of symptoms will depend on the type of HPV and where the infection is located.

 
HPV is usually passed though vaginal, oral, and anal sexual contact. This includes both penetrative sex and sexual activities where there is skin-to-skin contact. You can also get HPV by sharing sex toys. If you have HPV, you can pass it to others even if you don’t have symptoms.
 
Most types of HPV do not cause any health problems. However, some types of HPV can cause changes in your cells that can lead to cancer. Cervical cancer is the most common type of cancer caused by HPV.
 
Anyone with a cervix between the ages of 25-69 should be screened for cervical cancer every 3 years. 

For more information regarding cervical screening, go to: http://www.bccancer.bc.ca/screening/cervix.

If you have receptive anal sex, or are living with HIV, some health professionals may recommend that you have regular anal Pap tests. Talk to your primary care provider to determine what’s best for you.
 
Most HPV infections go away on their own and do not need treatment. If an HPV infection persists, there are different ways that the cancerous changes in the cells can be treated, depending on how severe the changes are.

For more information about cervical screening and test results, visit: Results (BC Cancer).
 
There are currently two HPV vaccines approved for use in Canada:
  • Gardasil®9 (HPV9)
  • Cervarix® (HPV2)
Both vaccines protect against 2 HPV types that cause about 70% of cervical cancers and 80% of anal cancers. The HPV9 vaccine protects against five additional cancer causing types which account for about 15% to 20% of cervical cancers, 11% of anal cancers in females and 4% in males. HPV9 vaccine also protects against 2 HPV types that cause about 90% of cases of genital warts.

For more information on the HPV vaccines, see HealthLinkBC file #101b Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccines.

It is important for people who have a cervix to follow current BC cervical screening guidelines because the HPV vaccine protects against most but not all types of HPV that cause cervical cancer.

The risk of infection increases with the number of sexual partners and having unprotected sex. While using a condom protects against HPV infections, condoms cannot cover all the skin surfaces around the genitals and the anus, and therefore does not guarantee complete protection against HPV. It is a good idea to be tested regularly for STIs, especially if you have new sexual partners or open relationships.

For more information on who should get cervical screening, talk to your primary care provider and visit: Who Should Get Screened? (BC Cancer).

For more information about HPV vaccine, visit: 
SOURCE: Human Papillomavirus (HPV) ( )
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