The Dra. Beatriz Pérez González, gynecologist at Top Doctors, will talk about the human papillomavirus.
What is the HPV virus and how many types of viruses are there?
It is a virus that only affects the human being. Today there are about 100 strains known, we call strain when there are small variants in the DNA that makes them have a small different characteristics. Of those 100 strains know that about 40 affect the genitals. Of these 40 can be divided into two large groups; some that have a very high oncogenic power , that is to say the capacity to transform the cell into cancer, which are called HPV at high risk and others with a lower oncogenic power that are called HPV or low risk human papilloma virus. Within the low risk there are 2 strains, the 6 and the 11, that give condilomas , they give the typical ones that are verruguitas that can be burned and that they do not have relation with the cancer and the other strains that can give cancer always it is slower and less aggressive. The high risk strains, where the most known are 6, 16 and 18, transform the cell and in 80% of cases can lead to cervical cancer.
How is it transmitted?
The human papillomavirus is fundamentally a sexually transmitted virus and is transmitted by fluids and above all by the contact of mucous membranes. Therefore, one of the most important elements for prevention is the condom. I know that it is said that it is not 100% safe, because there are times when it does not avoid contact with mucous membranes, but the risk is almost non-existent.
Does HPV cause symptoms?
In the beginning the primoinfection, or when you get it for the first time, you do not notice anything, it is asymptomatic. Normally cancer takes between 5 and 8 years to appear, which can infect you without knowing it and you can infect your partner also without knowing it.
How can it be prevented?
We have already commented that to avoid it, the condom , but to prevent it the vaccine. We have to change the classic concept of vaccination, everyone knows that if you get infected by a virus you create antibodies in your blood and you are already protected. In the case of HPV, as it is a very superficial infection, it does not contact the blood and you do not make antibodies with which you are not protected, whereas if you get vaccinated, being a vaccine in blood, you make those antibodies. These antibodies get three things, first eliminate the virus, second if it does not get rid of this virus does not infect and if you have already begun to do an injury of these that with 5 or 8 years can lead to cancer, stop it, therefore the vaccine It is very important even if you have the virus .
Does it always lead to cancer?
No, most times, fortunately, it heals itself and the virus is eliminated. In the cases that this progresses to cancer can be detected by a simple cytology that is an analysis of the cells of the cervix, where we only scratch a little, which does not hurt and takes less than 1 minute to be performed. If women do more or less periodic phytologies, having a stable partner every 2 years or not every year, we will always detect the virus in a previous curable phase because we know that from the contagion to the appearance of cancer, the average time is of between 5 and 8 years