Women’s health and HPV: how to prevent yourself

El Salvador, March 2022 — According to epidemiological data for the first half of 2021 from the Ministry of Health, HPV (HPV papillomavirus Human) is a virus present in approximately 54% of the Brazilian female population surveyed. It’s the papillomavirus is responsible for 99% of cervical cancer cases, the study says. On this March 8, a warning message is needed to make women aware that health care must be constant and that this type of cancer is one of the only ones that can be prevented by vaccination.

HPV is a virus whose main form of transmission is sexual intercourse. Contrary to popular belief, the papillomavirus it is so contagious that simple contact with the contaminated area is sufficient for infection, even if there is no penetration. In addition to cervical cancer, HPV can increase the risk of cancer of the throat, penis, and anal canal. The main visible symptom is the wart on the genitals, which carry a high concentration of virus. Another symptom is the change in the cervix, which is detected by the preventive examination.

The HPV vaccine is quadrivalent, meaning it protects against the four main variants of the virus, two that cause warts and the other two that cause cancer. According to Sylvia Lemos, infectious disease specialist at Laboratório Leme, of Dasa, the country’s largest integrated health network, vaccination is essential to reduce the spread of the virus. “It is important to be aware that after a person is infected with the HPV virus, the formation of small warts similar to a small cauliflower appear, which can cause itching, especially in the intimate area. However, warts may appear elsewhere on the body, such as the mouth or anus, if unprotected oral or anal sex has been performed with an infected person.

Another point that Sylvia explains is the age group to be vaccinated. In the public health system, the vaccine is offered to preteens, between the ages of 9 and 14. In the private network, this limit increases to 45 years for women and 26 years for men. It is not a curative vaccine, that is to say that once the virus is contracted, the vaccine does not act on it, but immunizes against the other main variants.

“Because it is a viral infection, there is no specific medicine (antiviral) that can lead to a cure, and therefore the treatment is done with the aim of removing the warts. where the importance of sexual prevention with the use of condoms and especially vaccination, ”reinforces the infectiologist.

A very common question among women is the relationship between HPV and fertility. According to Lemos, the difficulty encountered is that HPV can alter the cervix and prevent implantation, which is the initial process of pregnancy, when the fertilized egg will be deposited in the endometrium, where the baby lies. developed. This increases the risk of miscarriage. On the other hand, the virus does not directly affect the fetus once the pregnancy is advanced.

HPV has control and is not a barrier to sex, as long as it is accompanied by a condom. The infectiologist also indicates how medicine manages the control of the virus: “The vaccine against HPV (human papillomavirus) has the function of preventing diseases caused by this virus, such as genital warts, precancerous lesions and cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina or anus This vaccine is given by injection and is recommended for girls aged 9 to 14 and boys aged 11 to 14, as well as women aged 45 and 26-year-old men, who have HIV or AIDS, or who have received organ transplants, bone marrow transplants and people undergoing cancer treatment”.

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