The National Academies: What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

The National Academies

What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

HPV

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection and is carried by more than 50 percent of sexually active people at some point in their lives. HPV infects male and female genital areas, as well as the mouth and throat. It is spread mostly through genital contact (vaginal and anal sex) and can also be transmitted through oral sex.

Symptoms
Most HPV infections do not cause symptoms and most people with HPV are unaware that they are infected. However, some infections cause genital warts and others are linked with various cancers. The most common type of cancer caused by HPV is cervical cancer, which affects about 12,000 women in the United States each year.

Treatment
The virus itself cannot be treated but a person’s immune system usually clears HPV from the body within two years without having caused any health problems. However, sometimes the virus is not cleared from the body and can cause disease. Treatments exist for the diseases that are caused by HPV. Genital warts can be removed with medication or treated by a health professional. Cervical cancer can be treated if diagnosed early; therefore, it is important for women to get regular Pap tests in order to identify problems before severe complications develop.

Prevention
Because HPV is transmitted through sexual contact, it can be completely avoided by abstaining from sex. If you are sexually active, try to maintain a long-term and mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner. Condoms can greatly reduce the risk of contracting HPV but because HPV can infect areas not covered by condoms, they do not completely protect against infection.

Vaccines can also reduce the risk of HPV infections and HPV-linked diseases. Cervarix and Gardasil protect females against the strains of HPV that cause cervical cancer, and Gardasil can protect females and males against genital warts. Cervarix is available to females between the ages of 9 and 25. Gardasil is available to males and females between the ages of 9 and 26.

Sources:
http://www.cdc.gov/std/HPV/STDFact-HPV.htm
http://www.cdc.gov/hpv/
http://www.who.int/nuvi/hpv/en/

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What do you know about infectious disease?

True or False: Not all microbes are harmful to humans.

  • Correct!

    Not all microbes are harmful to humans. In fact, many of them protect us, helping our bodies function properly and competing with harmful organisms in an eternal contest for habitable space in or on our bodies. Although the microorganisms that cause disease often receive more attention, most microorganisms do not cause illness.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Not all microbes are harmful to humans. In fact, many of them protect us, helping our bodies function properly and competing with harmful organisms in an eternal contest for habitable space in or on our bodies. Although the microorganisms that cause disease often receive more attention, most microorganisms do not cause illness.

Infectious Disease Defined

Cytokine

A type of protein secreted by cells in the immune system that carries signals used to communicate locally between cells.

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