Human papilloma virus
HPV can cause genital warts. Warts are cauliflowers like growths that appear on the genitals. I.e. anus, penis, vagina, cervix, vulva. They can spread onto the skin .They do not cause pain or bleeding. They can be treated by applying certain chemicals on them or by surgical removal.
HPV can cause cancer. The commonest site is cervix. It can also affect the other genital organs like the vulva, vagina, anus & penis. When HPV infects the cells, it grows in the cell for many years and cause changes in the cells. These changes over a period of years may change into cancerous growth.
In present times there are vaccines available to protect against the virus. The vaccine should ideally be taken before a woman starts sexual activity. Nevertheless it can be given even subsequently. It may not help the woman if she is already infected by a particular strain of virus, but it may help in preventing against other strains. The vaccine should not be given during pregnancy. It can be taken whilst breastfeeding.
The vaccine is safe. There are 3 doses to be taken over a period of 6 months. It is important to note that every woman still needs to do pap smear screening for detection of precancerous and cancerous changes.