Most of us are familiar with the three letters:HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). Today, however there is another three-lettered threat: HPV (human papillomavirus). 

Both HIV and HPV are most frequently transmitted through sexual interactions. Both, in their early stages have no physical symptoms, people are oblivious to the need for testing or treatment. 

What is HPV?

HPV is the most common viral infection in the genital system. It is more common to be infected with HPV in your life time, than not. Repeat infection is possible. The highest risk for acquiring HPV infection is shortly after becoming sexually active. However, penetrative sex is not required for transmission of the virus, skin-to-skin contact is also a mode of transmission. 

There are more than 100 different strains of HPV, many of which do not lead to cervical cancer. However, when certain types of HPV are persistantly present over a period of time, the risk of it progressing into cancer is higher. The two strains or genotypes with the highest risk are HPV 16 and 18. Interestingly, there is also an increasing body of evidence linking HPV with cancers of the anus, vulva, vagina, and penis. 

An American Cancer Society report indicates that cervical cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in Sub-Saharan Africa, and 80% of cases occur in developing countries. 

Women who are sexually active should be screened for HPV that can cause abnormal cervical cells and pre-cancerous lesions, starting from 25 years of age. 

How to treat HPV?

If treatment is needed to excise abnormal cells or lesions, cryotherapy (destroying abnormal tissue on the cervix by freezing it) is recommended. If signs of cervical cancer are present, treatment options for invasive cancer include surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. 

It is important to remember that HPV begins as a precancerous condition, which can be detected by a HPV test or Pap smear and is 100% treatable. This is why early detection and regular screening is critical. This can be done by a traditional Pap smear or our easy to use UDoHPVTest. 

The UDoHPVTest is a discreet, safe and convenient home HPV test that is straight forward, fast, and as accurate as a doctor’s test.