HPV, or human papillomavirus, is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). To stay healthy, it’s important to get screened for STDs regularly. At his practice in Redding, California, Samuel Van Kirk, M.D. OBGYN offers STD screenings and educates patients of all ages about HPV. If left untreated, HPV can lead to warts or cancer, and up to 70% of cervical cancer occurrences have been linked to HPV infection. To learn more about HPV screening, vaccination, or treatment, schedule an appointment online or by phone today.

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What is human papillomavirus?

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection. It’s a virus that spreads through sexual contact. You can get HPV if you have vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who already has the virus.

HPV has no signs or symptoms in some instances, so it’s possible that you may not realize you have it. Nonetheless, it can cause skin or mucous membrane growths, or warts.

Some strains of the HPV virus can cause cancer if left untreated. While many cases of HPV don’t develop into cancer, it’s been linked to cervical cancer, as well as cancers of the anus, penis, vagina, and back of the throat.

What is the HPV vaccine?

These days, there are a few FDA-approved vaccines to prevent HPV. The vaccine is usually most effective when administered before a person becomes sexually active. It’s recommended that children between the age of 9-14 get the HPV vaccine as a series of two shots.

For patients older than 14 or for those who are already sexually active, the HPV vaccine can still help prevent the spread of the virus. Three shots are recommended for older children and young adults, each administered every other month.

How is HPV diagnosed and treated?

Not all cases of HPV show symptoms, which can make diagnosis difficult. Sometimes, symptoms don’t appear for years after you first become infected. Common symptoms of HPV include:

  • Genital warts
  • Plantar warts
  • Flat warts

In many cases, HPV doesn’t cause serious health concerns and disappears on its own. Your immune system attacks the virus and eliminates it before warts can grow or cancer develops. However, in some cases, HPV doesn’t go away on its own.

Medications and some surgical procedures can remove warts and help stop the spread of infection. During your annual gynecological well-woman exam, Dr. Van Kirk may perform an STD screen or Pap test to check for abnormal cell development.

If your Pap test results are abnormal, additional testing might be required. Regular screenings can help identify HPV and prevent cervical cancer.

Dr. Van Kirk and his team are here to help you stay at your healthiest. To learn more about HPV screening and treatment, make an appointment at Samuel Van Kirk, M.D. OBGYN online or by phone today.