These three letters are significantly loaded: HPV. You may have heard of the HPV virus, but few people are aware of what it means and how to avoid getting it.
The majority of sexually active people will contract the genital human papillomavirus (HPV) at some point in their lives, but many may not even be aware that they have it, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
The majority of occurrences of cervical cancer are linked to different HPV strains, which are transmitted through sexual contact. The US Food and Drug Administration has given the HPV vaccine Gardasil 9 its approval, and it is safe for both girls and boys, according to the Mayo Clinic.
If given before girls or women are exposed to the virus, this vaccination can prevent the majority of cases of cervical cancer.
Additionally, vulva and vaginal cancer can be avoided with this vaccine.
Additionally, the vaccine protects both men and women from genital warts, anal cancer, and mouth, throat, head, and neck malignancies.
Dis-Chem Pharmacies is educating people about the HPV virus and the importance of vaccination, especially for young men and preteens, in honour of Men's Health Month.
Theoretically, immunising boys against the HPV strains linked to cervical cancer may also help protect girls by reducing the spread of the virus.
The majority of men and women with HPV are between the ages of 15 and 59. Although the virus itself is not dangerous and does not typically cause obvious symptoms, it can cause other health problems, most frequently genital warts in men and occasionally even penile and anal cancer.
The World Health Organization advises men to get vaccinated as early as 11 or 12 years old, or before they begin engaging in sexual activity, because once you start engaging in sexual activity, there's a good possibility you'll be exposed to the virus.
The HPV virus, which should not be confused with HIV or HSV (genital herpes), is spread through vaginal contact and can happen even while using condoms.
According to Lizeth Kruger, clinic executive at Dis-Chem, there has been a discernible decline in the demand for the HPV vaccine among men in South Africa.
“We realised that this is likely because there hasn't been much conversation about the virus and how it affects both men and women,” said Kruger.
“It is crucial that we use June's designation as Men's Health Month to raise awareness of the disease and highlight the need of being vaccinated.”
What causes HPV in men?
The virus is most frequently transmitted during anal and/or vaginal sex, as well as during intimate skin-to-skin contact of the genital areas during sex, as was previously indicated.
It is difficult to determine when you originally became infected because the virus can lay dormant in your body for years before symptoms appear.
Because of this, it's crucial to understand that having HPV does not imply that your partner has been unfaithful to you.
What HPV symptoms are there?
Although the majority of men with HPV may not experience any symptoms and the infection may disappear from their bodies before they are even aware that they have HPV, there are several potential signs to watch out for.
Warts, odd growths, tumours, and sores are a few of these. If you see any of the aforementioned on your penis, anus, scrotum, mouth, or throat, we advise consulting a physician.
What exactly is a genital wart?
One or more tiny pimples on your genital area may be the result of genital warts.
They may be little or huge, elevated or flat, or even have a cauliflower-like appearance.
Warts can disappear, remain the same, increase in size or number, and perhaps return following therapy. Notably, the HPV subtype that results in warts does not result in malignancy.
Do men who have HPV develop cancer?
Although cancer caused by HPV in men is less common, it can nonetheless occur and should not be ignored.
Cancer can arise if HPV is not eradicated. Men are susceptible to developing penile or anal cancer as well as oropharyngeal cancer, which affects the tonsils and base of the tongue in the throat.
Men who have a weakened immune system and those who engage in anal sex are more likely to develop cancer.
Men's HPV screening
There are presently no standard screenings or tests that are advised to determine if you have HPV, especially if you have no symptoms. However, males who may be at a higher risk for anal cancer can get anal pap tests.
Additionally, there are no specific therapies for the HPV infection itself; instead, your doctor will deal with any symptoms you may be experiencing on an individual basis.
The study by WebMD claims that if you currently have an HPV, the vaccine won't get rid of it.
However, if you already have one form of HPV, the vaccine might help you avoid contracting a different strain of the virus.
Even though problems like genital warts and genital cancer brought on by HPV can be treated, there is essentially no cure for the virus once it has been contracted.
This is why it's important to screen for cervical cancer with routine pelvic exams and pap tests (if you're a woman).
A vaccination is strongly advised, according to Kruger, to reduce your risk of developing HPV and, consequently, any related problems.