Human Papilloma Virus

Human papilloma virus

     The human papilloma virus is a common virus (frequently encountered) that causes abnormalities of cells or skin tumors. Human papilloma virus can cause changes in tissues of the upper and lower limbs, vocal cords, mouth and genitalia. So far, more than 60 types of human papilloma virus are identified and each type infects a particular body part. We will address the implications of the virus from a gynecological point of view.

Why is the human papilloma virus important?

     The human papilloma virus is important because of the changes in some tissues, caused by certain types of HPV, can develop into cancer of the female genitalia. The diagnosis and proper treatment of these changes may prevent cancer.

Where can the human papilloma virus grow?

     The human papilloma virus can grow on the cervix (the opening hole of the uterus), vagina, vulva (vaginal lips), urethra (urinary opening) and anus (the opening through ending intestine).

What kind of tissue changes does the human papilloma virus cause?

     The human papilloma virus can cause two types of tissue changes:

  • Warts (warts)
  • Dysplasia (precancerous tissue).

     Doctors detected the presence of these changes by examining the vulva and vagina tissue through the Papanicolau test.

     Warts (genital warts) are some wart-like tumor, located in the genital area, most often located outside the vulva. They are usually painless but may cause itching, burning or spotting. They can also be found around the urethra or anus. The ones located inside of the vagina or cervix, are usually flat and they are discovered through a Papanicolau exam.

     The presence of dysplasia means abnormal cells in the skin. Dysplasia is not cancer but may become similar to cancer after years if not treated. With treatment, dysplasia is cured, so the possibility of it transforming into cancer vanishes.

     The only way to detect dysplasia is the Papanicolau test or biopsy (sampling and examination of a portion of tissue). Dysplasia can be evaluated with colposcopy, but the final diagnosis is made by biopsy. It is located most commonly in the cervix, but may also appear on the vagina and vulva.


     Warts are easily diagnosed by clinical examination. The only way to detect dysplasia is a Papanicolau test or biopsy.

     Screening for the human papilloma virus infection is done by doing the Papanicolau test. When the test reveals characteristic changes of cervical cells, HPV testing is still indicated. The human papilloma virus test is the determination of AND-HPV in a sample harvested from the cervix (similar to the Papanicolau test). Through this test is determined the presence of the HPV infection and determines the types of virus involved in the infection.

     So far a human papilloma virus test for men has not been implemented.

Transmission mode

     At this time very little is known about how or when we can become infected with the human papilloma virus. Transmission is mainly through sexual contact with an infected person. Women may be exposed to the human papilloma virus infection but they can show no dysplasia or warts for many years. Men and women are also infected with HPV without knowing it, showing no signs or symptoms.


     To reduce the risk of human papilloma virus transmission and contamination are recommended:

  • Reducing the number of sexual partners
  • Avoidance of sexual partners who had a large number of sexual partners
  • Use a condom (condoms provide protection against most sexual transmitted diseases, but cannot ensure 100% protection against the human papilloma virus because they do not completely stop the genital skin contact)