Human papillomavirus (HPV)
HPV is a large group of viruses that infect the skin and mucous membranes of humans. There are about 100 different types of this virus. It is this virus (certain types of it) that causes warts on the hands and feet. About 30 types of HPV can cause diseases in the genitals. But these are not the types of viruses that cause warts.
Sexually transmitted human papillomaviruses cause warts on the genitals, and some of them affect the cells of the mucous membrane of the cervix. Certain types of viruses that infect the cervix can provoke the development of cervical cancer.
Now about everything in more detail.
A few simple facts about the human papillomavirus
Can you protect yourself from the human papillomavirus?
- Human papillomavirus is a very common disease that infects more than 80% of people who are sexually active.
- The human papillomavirus can infect anyone who has had at least one sexual contact.
- The virus is transmitted by direct skin-to-skin contact.
- The condom offers little or no protection against human papillomavirus infection.
- Spermicides increase the chance of passing the virus from partner to partner.
How is HPV related to cervical cancer?
- In the vast majority of cases, HPV is not dangerous and is not accompanied by any symptoms.
- The vast majority of women infected with the human papillomavirus will never develop cervical cancer, provided they have regular check-ups with a gynecologist
- Some particularly dangerous types of the virus can cause damage to the cervix, which over time can degenerate into cervical cancer, but only in this case. If a woman is not checked by a gynecologist for a long time and does not undergo timely treatment of all previous stages of the disease. Read more about these cervical conditions here: “Cervical Dysplasia”
First, let's talk about viruses that lead to genital warts.
Condylomas are growths of the skin or mucous membrane of various shapes (in the form of cones on a thin base, in the form of cauliflower, etc.) - usually multiple warts, have a different shape, and the doctor can very easily determine their presence. They can be located on the skin of the perineum, around the anus, on the labia, near the clitoris, and at the entrance to the vagina.
Important! Sometimes the remnants of the hymen (they are called myrtle papillae from the word "myrtle" - a type of cone-shaped headdress) are confused with warts and begin to remove them - this is not entirely true. These papillae line the entrance to the vagina - and in fact, they are sometimes very difficult to distinguish from genital warts, since warts can also be located there.
The presence of genital warts is not at all dangerous - they only spoil the appearance of the genitals, and in fact, they contain the largest amount of the virus. Condylomas are usually removed by various methods - see the section on warts treatment.
If condylomas appeared and were removed - what is the probability that they will reappear?
- Some women have only one episode of genital warts, others can have a lot of relapses - this is very individual and impossible to predict.
- It is known that if there are warts, the virus is in an active state.
- When the condylomas disappear or are removed and they do not recur anymore, then the virus is in an inactive state (asleep) in the skin cells - and may not be contagious at this time
- It is believed that a healthy immune system can completely suppress the virus and prevent it from developing for a very long time.
- The period between infection and the appearance of genital warts or a positive test for the human papillomavirus can take from several weeks to several months or years. At the same time, infection with the papillomavirus does not mean that you will definitely have genital warts. Therefore, if you have this infection or condylomas, you should not blame your current partner - you may have been infected with this virus many years ago, or your partner may have been infected a very long time ago.
How is the human papillomavirus transmitted?
- Anyone who is sexually active can become infected with the human papillomavirus - remember - a condom does not protect against this infection.
- Human papillomavirus is transmitted by direct skin-to-skin contact during vaginal, anal, and possibly oral sex.
- The greatest likelihood of contracting the human papillomavirus is through contact with a partner who has clinical manifestations of the disease in the form of genital warts. If there are no warts, but the person is a carrier of the virus, infection still occurs, but the likelihood of this is somewhat lower.
- The types of viruses that cause genital warts are different from the types of viruses that cause warts. Therefore, if there are warts on the arms or legs, their contact with the genitals cannot lead to genital warts.
Human papillomavirus and pregnancy
- The presence of the human papillomavirus does not affect the course of pregnancy and the fetus.
- The vast majority of children born through the natural genital tract to mothers infected with the human papillomavirus are healthy.
- It is extremely rare that the presence of the human papillomavirus in the mother can lead to the appearance of papillomas in the respiratory tract in a child (there is still no scientific evidence of this fact)
Assessment of the condition of the cervix. Possibilities of liquid cytology
Quite often, one has to deal with situations when a patient has a high oncogenic risk of human papillomavirus (HPV) and it is immediately reported that there is a risk of developing cervical cancer.
Quite aggressive HPV treatment is often prescribed, a biopsy is performed and, in general, it is not clearly explained what is actually happening, what is the further prognosis. The main thing is that the doctor does not follow a clear algorithm that has existed in the world for quite a long time.
So, if you have a high oncogenic risk human papillomavirus (HPV) detected by PCR, do not panic. There is nothing serious in this finding, it is just an excuse to undergo an appropriate examination.
- Having high-risk HPV does not mean that you will definitely develop cervical cancer. There is a possibility, but it is very small. If you regularly visit a gynecologist's consultation, the disease can be detected at the earliest (precancerous) stages and completely cured.
- The human papillomavirus enters the cells of the cervix. It may not cause any changes in them for a long time. HPV can be suppressed by the immune system, and subsequently not detected during the analysis. Most often this happens by the age of 30-35. The presence of the virus in the body after this age makes it necessary to be more careful in assessing the conditions of the cervix.
- Of great importance is the amount of virus in the body. The usual analysis by the PCR method indicates only the presence of the human papillomavirus in the body, but does not reflect its amount. There is a specific analysis amount of HPV virus.
- In the world there is not a single effective drug for the treatment of human papillomavirus, as well as immunomodulators and other drugs are not used. There is no cure for HPV. The immune system can suppress its replication, but no drugs (no matter how it is claimed by the manufacturers) can help the immune system suppress this virus. All treatment regimens prescribed in our country, including allokin-alpha, polyoxidonium, panavir, cycloferon, isoprenosine, etc., have no proven effectiveness. There are no analogues of these drugs in the world.
What to do if HPV is detected?
Most often, clinics take a regular cytological smear and a PCR smear to determine the virus. That is, an analysis that simply answers the question: is there HPV or not.
These assays have several significant drawbacks that may affect their accuracy.
Disadvantages of conventional cytology and PCR smear:
- A smear from the cervix is taken with a flat brush and the material is “smeared” on the glass -
- The doctor may not remove cells from the entire surface of the cervix;
- When applied to glass, a smear is obtained with an unevenly applied material (somewhere thicker, somewhere smeared), which does not allow a cytologist to fully examine it and evaluate all the cells obtained;
- The smeared glass may become “clogged”, which also affects the availability of evaluation of obtained cells.
- As a result, a PCR smear will show whether there is a human papillomavirus or not - that's all. That is, it cannot be used to judge the amount of this virus, and this matters.
Modern possibilities for assessing the condition of the cervix
The essence of the method is that the material is taken from the cervix using a special brush, which, due to its design, allows you to capture cells from the entire surface and cervical canal.
Next, the brush is immersed in a special container with a solution. This container is sent to the laboratory. All cells from this brush end up in a solution that is loaded into the apparatus. The material is processed in it, and after the cells are applied in a thin and uniform layer on the glass, which, after staining, is evaluated by a cytologist.
This approach allows us to consider all the cells obtained during the sampling of the material and fully evaluate them. This significantly increases the likelihood of accurate diagnosis of the state of cervical cells and not to miss their malignant transformation.
This method has two more important advantages:
- Recall that the cells after sampling are in a special solution, where they can be stored for up to six months. Using this solution, you can also conduct an analysis for the presence of human papillomavirus by a quantitative method (Digene-test) - that is, to identify not only the presence of this virus, but also find out its amount. And this is important when interpreting the results of cytological analysis and affects further tactics.
- From the resulting solution with cells, one more important analysis can be done - the determination of the specific P16ink4a protein. The definition of this protein makes it possible to clarify the situation when detecting altered cells of the cervix. The detection of this protein indicates that the cell has serious damage, and there is a high probability of its malignant transformation. The absence of this protein indicates that the defect in the cells is not dangerous and the likelihood of malignant transformation is minimal.
Thus, three analyzes can be made from one material sampling, and for this it is not necessary to come to the clinic several times and make an additional sampling. That is, if an analysis is taken from you only for liquid cytology and “bad” cells are detected, then additional studies (determination of the amount of human papillomavirus and analysis for a specific protein) can be performed from the already obtained material. Just additionally ordering these tests in the laboratory.
This triple test allows you to analyze the cells of the cervix with the highest possible accuracy at the moment and decide what to do next.
Such a test should be carried out not only for women who have already had changes in the cervix or who have been diagnosed with oncogenic types of human papillomavirus. This test should be performed prophylactically once a year, in which case you can be sure that you do not miss possible changes in the cervix.
In our clinic, such an analysis of cervical cells will be performed.
- Liquid cytology - 2500 rubles
- Digene-test (quantitative determination of HPV) - 2500 rubles
- Analysis for the presence of P16ink4a protein - 2000 rubles
Phone number for appointments and consultations
+7 (495) 995-15-30
Information about HPV only on a separate website: https://vpch.org
HPV and warts treatment
It's important to understand! Not a single viral infection (hepatitis, herpes, CMV, etc.) can be completely cured - the treatment of HPV, like any viral infections, is aimed at suppressing the replication of the virus (its division and a corresponding increase in its number). It is possible to achieve a long-term remission of the disease, but it is impossible to completely remove the virus from the body.
Virus replication is controlled by our immune system, which depends on many factors.
Normally, the immune system completely suppresses the human papillomavirus, and it is present in a minimal amount in the cells of the skin and mucous membranes of the genital organs.
As soon as the immune system gives up, the replication of the virus is activated.
The main goal of HPV treatment is the destruction of genital warts, the place of greatest accumulation of human papillomaviruses. By reducing the amount of the virus in the body, we help the immune system to "squeeze" the remaining viruses, which will lead to remission of the disease.
If the weakening of the immune system persists, then even after the destruction of condylomas, there is a possibility of a relapse of the disease.
Raise immunity and cure the virus?
Only in our country there is a blind faith that with the help of various immunomodulatory drugs it is possible to change the activity of the immune system and thereby prevent the recurrence of the disease. Some even claim they can cure the virus.
Please note that all immunomodulatory drugs are exclusively Russian-made. Made in some little-known research institutes "Dalchimpharm ..." None of these drugs has passed serious clinical trials according to the GSP format - the world standard for testing the effectiveness and safety of drugs.
The main thing is that there are no analogues of this “unique Russian development” all over the world, which is very strange.
The strange thing is that the human papillomavirus is spread all over the world, for the whole world this is a very big problem. And not a single major pharmaceutical company. Which annually spends tens of billions of dollars on the creation and research of new drugs (budgets are not comparable with the budget of the NII Nizhdalchimpharm ...) has not released a single drug of a similar effect to the world market.
Therefore, my advice is never use immunomodulators in your treatment - it is, at least, just a waste of money.
All over the world warts are treated by simple removal. To do this, you can use all known medical energies and chemical means of destruction: cryo, acids (for example, Solcoderm), electrocoagulation, laser, radio wave energy.
In practice, it's best to do this:
- Treat very small warts with solcoderm (this is done by a doctor - he simply treats warts with this solution, they turn white and fall off after a few days). This method is better than others, as it is the softest and least injures the surrounding tissues.
- Larger and larger condylomas - best of all is either a laser or radio wave exposure (surgitron, fotek). Fast, painless and no damage to surrounding tissues.
A complete guide to action for all HPV situations: https://vpch.org/rukovodstvo-k-deystviyu/