Table of contents:
HPV from a to z
The day before the end of World Immunization Week, we publish an important text on the human papillomavirus. What you need to know and how to protect yourself from the consequences that can make serious adjustments to your life plans.
Viruses that cause the growth of warts on the face, body and genital mucosa have existed on Earth for more than 2 million years - longer than humanity itself! Scientists have found HPV not only in monkeys, but also in cats, parrots, elephants, dolphins and many other animals. But for some reason, the virus does not live in the body of mice and rats, which makes laboratory studies very difficult.
Today, more than 100 types of papillomaviruses are known, with about 30 of them affecting the genitourinary system. This is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. A third of girls become infected with it within 3-4 months after the start of active sexual activity. As a result, 44% of Russian women find themselves infected with HPV by external signs - genital warts, detected during a gynecological examination. Taking into account the asymptomatic virus carriership, this figure is even higher and can reach 80% or more!
It is believed that genital warts can disappear on their own or as a result of treatment with antiviral drugs (cidofovir, panavir, alpirazin) and interferons (laferon, laverobion, alfarekin, reaferon, viferon), removal with a laser or liquid nitrogen, but with weakening of immunity after stress or a cold, they appear again. This means that the virus does not leave the body anywhere, but continues to carry out its subversive work.
Some types of HPV cause cervical cancer - the second most common (after breast cancer) cancer that occurs in Russian women under 45, and the first in the structure of cancer mortality in women 30–35 years old in our country. It is estimated that the presence of papillomavirus doubles its risk, as well as the risk of prostate cancer in men. True, only 4 varieties of the pathogen have high oncogenicity: the 6th, 11th, 16th and 18th types of HPV. They are the most common. The quadrivalent vaccine Gardasil, developed in the USA, provides protection against them. The first two types of HPV cause the growth of genital warts, and the last couple - precancerous lesions of the cervix, vagina and vulva and their malignant transformation. The antibodies produced after vaccination also cross-protect against HPV types 31 and 45.The rest of the virus varieties play a very modest role in our incidence.
The controversy surrounding the HPV vaccine has been raging for years. "Anti-vaccine" blame her for the ability to cause infertility, although there is no scientific evidence for this. But there are recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO), which included this vaccine in the mandatory minimum of 10 infections, the vaccination campaign against which should be carried out free of charge and everywhere. The Russian calendar of mandatory preventive vaccinations does not consist of 10, but of 12 items, but HPV vaccination is not included in this number - mainly for financial reasons: the vaccine is not cheap!
Here is what Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences Leila Seymurovna Namazova-Baranova says about the problem of vaccination against HPV:
HPV vaccination is not on our national calendar, but it is on 27 regional calendars. Now it covers 160 thousand schoolchildren, that is, 2-3 teenagers out of a hundred included in the target group. And there should be no less than ninety of them, so that in the long term such diagnosis - "cervical cancer" disappears from the medical records of our women. There are examples of this in the world - Australia is already very close to defeating this disease. The breakthrough was made possible because on the Green Continent over the past 13 years, all girls and 7 years - all boys were vaccinated against HPV. Anyone under 19 years old can count on 2 doses of the vaccine at the expense of the state, although usually schoolchildren are vaccinated here at 12-13 years old. It is important to have time to do this before the initiation of young people to sex,because the probability of catching HPV exists already at the first contact.
But what about those who have already encountered the virus and, in general, how to find out whether a woman is infected with HPV or not? After all, most of the cases of this disease are subclinical (without external manifestations) and latent (latent) forms. There is a virus (sometimes even several of its types) in the body, but there are no warts in the corresponding places! You think that everything is all right with you, but in fact it is not a fact …
You need to ask the gynecologist to take a swab from the cervical canal that connects the uterus with the vagina, in order, firstly, to check if there are atypical cells (they indicate a precancerous condition), and secondly, to do a PCR study. It will show if the smear contains papillomavirus genetic material. This method is highly technological and very sensitive - it practically does not misfire.
Let's say the result is negative. Then everything is clear: we are vaccinating! And if a virus is found? Don't get ready for the worst right away. Only 5% of all HPV infections lead to cancer. It all depends on the type of virus. For example, when infected with types 6 or 11, the likelihood of cancer, although there is, is not so high. The most dangerous in this regard are types 16 and 18. Those in whom they are found need to be observed 2-3 times a year by a gynecologist and repeat the smear analysis for atypical cells. Then the gynecologist will be able to prevent trouble by detecting unfavorable changes at the precancerous stage (erosion, dysplasia, leukoplakia) and taking appropriate measures against them.