HPV (Human Papillomavirus) is a very common sexually transmitted infection. Most people who contract HPV do not develop any symptoms and their immune system clears the virus within a few years. However, in some cases, HPV can lead to health problems.
If you have HPV, the following things may happen:
- Genital warts: HPV can cause the development of warts on the genitals, anus, or throat. These warts can be raised, flat, or cauliflower-shaped.
- Abnormal Pap smear results: HPV can cause changes to the cells of the cervix, which can be detected through a Pap smear test. If the changes are severe, it may indicate cervical cancer or precancerous conditions.
- Cervical cancer: Certain types of HPV can lead to cervical cancer, which is the fourth most common cancer in women worldwide. Regular cervical cancer screening can help detect precancerous changes in the cervix.
- Other cancers: HPV has been linked to other types of cancer, including cancer of the vulva, vagina, anus, penis, and oropharynx (back of the throat).
It is important to note that not all types of HPV cause cancer, and most people who have HPV do not develop cancer. However, it is still important to take steps to prevent the spread of HPV, such as practicing safe sex, getting vaccinated (if eligible), and undergoing regular cervical cancer screening.