Symptoms, how long do they appear?


HPVs are highly contagious viruses that infect both men and women and are transmitted during sexual intercourse. They can cause cancers such as the uterus and throat.

[Mise à jour le 19 janvier 2023 à 10h39] been ignored for a long time, papilloma virus or HPV (for Human papilloma virus. in English) increasingly. Those Highly contagious virus to Refers to men and women through sexual intercourse. they can stay asleep for years and be It is eliminated naturally Or get up and train different symptoms. The most dangerous consequences of papillomaviruses are the occurrence cancer like neck the womb or the throat. An update on papillomaviruses with Prof. Olivier Greslin, Head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at CHU de Reims.

Definition: What is papillomavirus?

This virus belongs to a large family of human papillomavirus (HPV) who counts About 200 members (genotypes). These are highly contagious viruses that affect both men and women And located all over the planet. “Some of these viruses can remain in the body without causing symptoms (latent infection) f They are often eliminated automatically“, notes Prof. Olivier Grasselin, Head of the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics at Reims University Hospital. Several types of HPV can infect the skin or mucous membranes and colonize specific parts of the skin, mouthfollower genitals outside or from the region anal.

“The slow progression between infection with HPV, the appearance of precancerous lesions, and cancer”

After how long does HPV infection take?

It should be remembered from the very beginning that papillomavirus infection does not make itself known systematically. Most of the time, it goes away on its own thanks to our immune system. HAS remembers. In about 90% of cases, The virus disappears within two years of contamination. in 10% of cases stay, Persistent infection in the body And “may lead Several years later lesions” says the National Cancer Institute. These lesions can occur, for example, in the cervix and develop into cancer (but this is not systemic). “The progression is slow between infection with HPV, the appearance of precancerous lesions, and cancer, Institute continues. The delay ranges from 10 to 20 years between infection and cancer.”

Papillomaviruses found in the genital area It is transmitted almost exclusively through sexual contact (even when the relationship is protected by a condom). They are the most common cause of STDs and STDs.

papillomavirus in women

During their lifetime, more than 80% of sexually active women will come into contact with one or more HPVs And in most cases, it will Get rid of it automatically within 2 to 3 years (Development of natural immunity). the The persistence of this infection for more than several years can be the cause of certain illnesses (diseases)– continues the specialist. transition It can exceptionally be done by infected laundry or clothingoften during contact between the affected mucosa and the healthy mucosa During vaginal, oral or anal intercourse. the risk factors among women is an early age for the first sexual intercourse, relationships with multiple partners Having another sexually transmitted infection (STI).

What are the symptoms of papillomavirus infection?

In the event of blisters on the genitals: consult!

Most often, human papillomavirus infection is at the tissue level It does not cause any symptoms. The virus is present within the mucous membranes without causing lesions. In some cases, one may notice papilloma (or wart) which defines a lesion located on the skin or mucous membranes, Tissues that line the inside of certain organs“, confirms the gynecologist A small, benign tumor, usually raised to the surface Of the skin, caused by an abnormal increase in the size of the papillae, and small, localized macules on the skin or mucous membranes. “This benign lesion is highly contagious and can heal spontaneously or with the help of treatments applied directly to the lesion (laser, cryotherapy, medications). L’the appearance of warts on the external genitalia, In men or women, this should lead to medical advice ( HPV types 6 and 11 can cause these small warts It is also called “adenoma” at the level of the genital organs, editor’s note). The most common symptom of cervical cancer Abnormal vaginal discharge or bleedingAnd outside the rules, Mostly due to sexual intercourse”says the specialist.

“In many cases, infection of body cells with HPV is only transient.”

What are the risks of infection with the papilloma virus?

Associated risks vary depending on the HPV (Low-risk and high-risk genotypes). Some of them do not cause any problems, while others cause mild manifestations such as: Warts on the skin or some cortical tumor. Other viruses can cause it Precancerous lesionsor cancers, is one of the most common Cervical cancer. “In many cases, it is only the cells of the body that are infected with HPV transient. In fact, the immune defenses of infected individuals can allow for the automatic elimination of the virus before it can cause lesions.Explains Professor Olivier Greslin.

What are the risks of getting cancer with the papilloma virus?

every year in france, More than 6,000 new cases of cancer are caused by papillomaviruses (Not all HPV viruses are responsible for cancer, editor’s note), states the Supreme Authority for Health. if Three-quarters of these cancers occur in women (Cervix, vulva, vagina, anus, ENT system (throat …)), a A quarter affects men: mainly ear, nose and throat cancersbut also Cancers of the anus and penis. “in between High-risk human papillomavirus (HR-HPV), HPV types 16 and 18 being the most common (responsible for 70 to 80% of cervical cancers) and most at risk of causing formation precancerous lesions (dysplasia) in the cervixThe specialist notes. These dysplasias are of varying severity and qualifies as mild or severe depending on the percentage of affected cells that develop abnormally in the mucosa. Some of these dysplasias can disappear spontaneously and others develop if it is not for a small part of them, and the development Toward Cervical cancer over as many years as possible. “Those Precancerous (dysplastic) and precancerous lesions may also be observed in other organs such as anus, vagina, vulva, Tonsils (at the level of throat) or the penis, but with less frequency than the cervixNuance Professor Greslin.

What are the screening tests for papilloma virus?

Human papilloma virus is checked by Smear and HPV test. “The purpose of the smear is to identify abnormal cells in the cervix, even before they become cancerous. If a precancerous abnormality of the cervix is ​​confirmed by a biopsy They are performed by a gynecologist, removed (conical) Which helps prevent the emergence of cancer. Therefore, the screening smear is a very good way to fight cervical cancer.“, the specialist notes. The earlier an anomaly is detected, the better it will be treated Simple and painless sampling It only takes a few minutes, and it can be done by A gynecologist, attending physician or midwifeOr even by a biologist in a medical lab.

What are the recommendations for vaccination against HPV?

Vaccination against human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is Recommended for girls and boys ages 11-14 with a 2-dose schedule (month 0 – month 6). Under Right Vaccine. Vaccination is recommended for young women and men between the ages of 15 and 19 on a 3-dose schedule. Vaccination is also recommended Up to the age of 26, among men who have had or have had sex with other men.

Two vaccines are available:

  • the Cervarix vaccine® Protects against HPV 16 and 18.
  • the Gardasil 9 vaccine® Protects against HPV 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58.

This vaccination does not protect against all types of HPV.

This vaccination does not protect against all types of HPV, hence the importance of HPV screening/testing And the duration of its operation is not yet known. But, Its effectiveness has been proven by many scientific studies. The widespread use of this vaccine in France can significantly reduce the number of cones (30,000 / year) and cervical cancer (about 3,000 / year).

What are the treatments for human papillomavirus?

There is no effective medication for treating HPV infection when it is installed. However, it should be remembered that many of these infections are completely asymptomatic and transient, host defenses to eliminate the virus. when injured It causes precancerous lesions (at the level of the cervix or the vulva for example), they must be detected, accurately diagnosed and can be subject surgical or laser treatment, Even for Topical treatments (local application of active products to pests and viruses). For cervical cancer, the treatment will be simpler and the chances of recovery will be higher as the diagnosis will be made earlier.Explains Professor Olivier Greslin.

Do condoms protect against papillomavirus?

The condom protects “incompletely” Against HPV infection, the HAS responds Because it does not cover all the genitals.. Apart from vaccination, there is no other way to protect against HPV.

Thanks to Pr Olivier Graesslin, Head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at CHU de Reims. Comments collected in 2019.

Sources: HAS/Vaccination Information Service/National Cancer Institute.


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