HPV, or human papillomavirus, is a group of more than 100 related viruses. About 40 different types of HPV are transmitted through sexual contact, making it one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. Although many HPV infections go away on their own, the virus can cause serious complications, including genital warts or an increased risk of cancer. At Caceres Specialized Gynecology in Kissimmee and Celebration, Florida, board-certified gynecologist Dr. Aileen Caceres and her team offer HPV screenings and complete follow-up care to women in the greater Osceola County area. Call your nearest office or book an appointment online today.
HPV is a widespread viral infection that’s contracted through skin-to-skin contact. Some HPV viruses may cause warts to appear on your hands, while others may cause warts on the bottoms of your feet.
Sexually transmitted HPV infections are so common that virtually all sexually active people contract it at some point in their lives; most people actually contract the infection for the first time shortly after becoming sexually active.
Almost 80 million Americans are infected with some form of HPV, and another 14 million people become newly infected each year.
About 90% of people who contract HPV never develop symptoms or complications because their bodies are able to effectively fight off the infection. It’s also possible for HPV to stay dormant for months or even years, which can make it difficult to know exactly when the initial infection occurred. Sexually transmitted HPV infections are categorized in one of two ways:
This form of the virus can cause genital warts, or small, contagious bumps that appear on or around the genitals.
This type of HPV increases the risk of developing several types of cancer, including cervical, vulvar, and vaginal in women, penile cancer in men, and anal and throat cancer in both genders.
Although there’s currently no HPV test that can detect the virus in men, there is a test that can effectively detect the virus in women. The cervical HPV test is designed to diagnose the presence of the two specific types of HPV (type 16 and type 18) that are associated with an increased risk of developing cervical cancer.
The test involves taking samples of your cervical cells in a quick Pap smear procedure. A negative result means that you don’t have either type of HPV associated with cervical cancer. A positive result doesn’t indicate that you have cervical cancer, it means that you have one of the types of high-risk HPV that can cause cervical cancer.
Routine HPV screening tests are generally recommended for women over the age of 30.
If you have a positive result from an HPV test but your Pap smear is normal, Dr. Caceres may recommend regular follow-up testing to monitor the situation closely as it develops.
If you have a positive HPV test as well as an irregular Pap smear result, Dr. Caceres will probably recommend you undergo a minor diagnostic procedure called a colposcopy. Having a colposcopy can help determine whether you have cancerous cells, precancerous cells, or some other type of abnormality.
A colposcopy is a quick procedure that helps determine exactly why your HPV/Pap test results were abnormal. Dr. Caceres uses a Dysis® colposcope, which uses advanced digital technology to enable her to see your cervix up close and in high resolution. During this procedure, she may need to take a biopsy of abnormal cervical cells.
Once you receive results from this procedure, Dr. Caceres can let you know whether you need further treatment, as well as how often you should plan to have cervical cancer screenings going forward.
For patients with persistent HPV, Dr. Caceres and her team offer antioxidant therapy, a cutting-edge treatment approach that uses clinical nutrition to help support your body’s ability to fight the virus. Antioxidant therapy focuses on supplying folic acid, vitamin C and zinc, which are the main antioxidant nutrients that help protect soft cervical tissues against HPV.
To find out more about HPV and how it’s managed, call your nearest office or schedule an appointment using the convenient online booking feature.