Opportunistic diseases: Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

What is it?

The human papilloma virus (HPV) is spread through sexual activity.


About 40 million people in the United States are infected with HPV.

HPV can cause three different kinds of diseases, most within or around the genital area:

¨ Warts: HPV can cause warts - small, hard lumps that grow high mass - forming in or around the vagina, anus or the tip of the penis. Healthy genital warts sometimes called condylomata acuminata or condylomas. Warts usually do not progress to cancer, but they can be an indication of precancerous dysplasia and should be examined.

¨ Dysplasia: Portions of abnormal cells found inside the anus or cervix (located at the lower end of the uterus), vagina and vulva (the lips and the outer part of the vagina). Unlike warts, dysplasia can not be felt or seen easily. Generally refers to dysplasia as a pre-cancer condition. Not all men and women with dysplasia develop cancer.
¨ Cancer (Carcinoma): Dysplasia can develop into cancer. The four most common types of cancer are caused by HPV cervical, anal, rectal and penile. HPV can also cause cancer of the head and neck, such as those involving the mouth or throat. If not diagnosed early, these forms of cancer can be life-threatening.

HIV-positive people are more likely to be infected with HPV that HIV-negative. HIV-positive people are also more likely to develop genital warts and anal or cervical cancer, and cancer of the head or neck, as a result of HPV. Unlike some cancers, the rates have decreased since the introduction of potent combinations of antiretroviral therapies, cancer rates head / neck and anal rose and cervical cancer rates remained essentially unchanged. The researchers reported that this is due in part to the fact that people are living much, but with restored immune systems or imperfectly preserved. Research, however, is underway to better quantify the risk of a person developing HPV-related cancers.