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Women’s Health: Genital HPV: The Silent Killer

At least 80% of women will have acquired the HPV (Human Papillomavirus) disease by the age of 50. Although HPV is generally more common in females, data from the CDC report that approximately 20 million people are currently infected with the virus and at least 50% of sexually active men and women will acquire the infection at some point in their lives.

HPV (Human Papillomavirus), a common genital infection and STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease), has gained some awareness in the US. However, an unfortunate number of women still have not become educated on this infectious, and possibly deadly, disease.

At least 80% of women will have acquired the disease by the age of 50. Although HPV is generally more common in females, data from the CDC report that approximately 20 million people are currently infected with the virus and at least 50% of sexually active men and women will acquire the infection at some point in their lives.

Those frightening statistics become even more realistic after learning that there are usually no symptoms for HPV. Most people who acquire this disease don't even know that they are infected and can easily pass it on to their sexual partner by genital contact. Since there are more than 30 different types of HPV, the disease can go undetected in a woman for up to two years.

The sly virus breeds in a person's dermis (skin) or mucous membranes. One visible sign that may occur is the appearance of genital warts. These growths may appear on the vagina, vulva, cervix, and rectum and could possibly be painful depending on the location. A genital wart can develop as a single bump or as a mass of soft, moist swellings. Though it is rare, a pregnant woman can pass HPV to her baby during vaginal delivery, which can cause warts to develop on the child's skin or in the child's throat.



Some of the more high-risk types of HPV can infect a woman's cervix and cause cervical cancer. A Pap test is the best and most often used screening process for cervical cancer and is suggested for any female who sexually active. Regular testing (at least once a year), can assist in preventing HPV infection from becoming terminal cancer of the cervix.

The American Cancer Society expects at least 10,500 women to develop invasive cervical cancer with almost a third of those dying from the disease. Regular testing and treatment can greatly decrease the expected death rate and help prevent some complications such as a misdiagnoses. Most Pap tests are included in a female's annual medical office visit and is usually covered up to 80% in most major health insurance plans.

Since October is the national month for Breast Cancer Awareness, it is important to stress good health and preventive measures for all major women's diseases. A simple health screening and Pap test can help reduce the risk of several cancers and just possibly save a life.

For more information on STDs and referrals to STD Clinics call (800) 232-4636. (En Englais y Espa

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