HPV is a family of extremely common viruses, some of which can cause genital warts and increase the risk for certain cancers. The medical team at Advantia OB-GYN Shady Grove is skilled in the diagnosis and management of HPV infections, offering an array of treatment options customized to the specific needs of women.
What is HPV?
HPV (human papillomavirus) is a family of more than 80 viruses, most of which are very common. Some types of HPV can be spread through sexual contact. In fact, HPV infection is the most common sexually-transmitted disease in the U.S. Almost all sexually-active people come in contact with an HPV virus at some point during their lives, and in most cases, the body can clear the virus without causing any symptoms. Sometimes, though, HPV winds up causing genital warts or increasing the risk of developing certain cancers, including cervical and penile cancers. HPV can also cause sores around the mouth or anus or in the throat.
Is HPV the same as HIV?
No, HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, the virus that causes AIDS. It is a completely different unrelated virus.
How is HPV diagnosed?
HPV can be diagnosed with a test performed during a routine pelvic exam. The test is performed in the same way as a Pap test, taking a very small sample of cells from the vaginal wall and the cervix and then evaluating those cells under a microscope to look for the virus. Sometimes, HPV is diagnosed with an exam called a colposcopy which is often performed following an abnormal Pap test result. HPV infections are one of the top causes of abnormal Pap test results.
How is HPV treated?
HPV can be treated in several different ways, including:
- Electrocautery to burn off lesions or warts
- Cryosurgery to remove lesions by “freezing” them off
- Prescription medicines
- Laser treatments to destroy warts and any other abnormal cells that could increase the risk of cancer
- Loop electrosurgical excision procedure, or LEEP, which uses an electrified wire to precisely cut away warts and areas of abnormal tissue
The type of treatment used will be determined based on the specific needs of the patient.