What is it?
Human papillomavirus infection is an infection by human papillomavirus (HPV). Most HPV infections cause no symptoms and resolve spontaneously. In some, they persist and result in warts. 95% of women who have HPV shake it off through their immunity, but in some women it may linger on and cause abnormal smears.
Is it necessary to treat HPV infection?
It is not necessary to treat HPV infection unless it causes a smear abnormality. Your immunity will usually (in 95% cases) get rid of the infection.
What about HPV vaccination?
Some common types of HPV (16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, 58, 6 & 11) can be vaccinated against. GARDASIL-9 vaccination is now available and is a three-injection course.
Ideally, HPV vaccination should be carried out before sexual debut. However, less than 1% of women are exposed to all nine types that the vaccine protects against. 99% of women are therefore likely to benefit from this vaccination even if you are sexually active.
Can HPV cause cervical cancer?
HPV does cause cervical cancer, but only in a very, very small proportion of cases. That’s why HPV infection is very common, but cervical cancer is very rare. In most cases of HPV infection, the immune system will get rid of the infection for you. From acquiring HPV infection to getting cervical cancer, it takes between 10 to 15 years. This means that if you have regular smear tests every 3 years, the abnormality will be detected much before it becomes anything serious. The risk of getting cervical cancer is extremely low if you have regular smear tests as suggested by your GP.