Human papilloma virus
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The Papilloma Virus is a DNA based virus that can infect humans as well as other kinds of animals. The Human Papilloma Virus, or HPV as it is commonly called, is the type of Papilloma Virus that can infect humans. Over 100 varieties of Human Papilloma Virus has been identified all of which can cause infection of the skin and the mucous membrane. 80 out of these 100 variants of the virus have been completely sequenced.

The genomic sequences of the virus are the basis in classifying them. The current classifying system has 3 categories to describe the Human Papilloma Virus clinically. The classifications are non-genital cutaneous, epidermodusplasia verruciformis and anogenital or mucosal.


The HPV infections that are classified under mucosal is further classified as subclinical, clinical, or asymptomatic. Subclinical lesions are known be applying 3% to 5% acetic acid on it and is inspected under the microscope. Clinical lesions need not undergo such scrutiny since it is grossly apparent. Latent HPV infections however are only detected through testing for viral DNA.

Different types of HPV also pose different levels of risk. For example, HPV type 6 and HPV type 11 are considered low risk due to the fact that they have low oncogenic potential. These two types of HPV are the results of low-grade pre-cancerous lesions and the formation of condylomata. On the other hand, the HPV types 18 and 16 are considered high risk since these two types of HPVs are responsible for the high-grade intraepithelial lesions which can progress to carcinomas specifically in the category of mucosal or anogenital.

It has been known though that an HPV infection can cause malignant transformation in a tissue on its own. There are several other factors that aid the infection in causing malignant transformations. Included as cofactors are pregnancy, smoking, ultraviolet radiation, compromised immune system, and folate deficiency.

Papilloma viruses are very target specific. This means that if it is a Human Papilloma Virus, it can only infect humans. If it is some other type of Papilloma virus then humans won't get infected. The HPV or any Papilloma Virus for that matter is a non-enveloped virus. It is of icosahedral symmetry with 72 capsomeres.
human papilloma virus
Image: Human Papilloma Virus


The cause of HPV lesions is known to arise from the spreading and increasing of infected basal kertinocytes. The actual infection occurs when basal cells from the host are contaminated by a virus through a non-intact epithelial barrier. Examples of this would be skin abrasions or during sexual intercourse.

The HPV can easily spread from one host to another. Since it can survive at low temperature for many months without a host, contamination becomes very convenient. A person infected with plantar warts and would walk around barefoot may also infect other people that will come into physical contact (skin to skin) with the floor.


The prognosis for patients infected with the Human Papilloma virus depends on the location of the infection as well as the degree of the infection. Patients who develop malignancies tend to have poorer prognosis compared to other cases.

The Human Papilloma Virus can manifest in several parts of the body. Growth of common warts can be found on the surfaces of the skin like in the hands and feet area. They can also grow on knees and elbows. Common warts can be described as cauliflower-like and are typically raised higher compared to the skin surrounding them.


Warts under the feet or plantar warts are also manifestations of the Human Papilloma Virus. These types of warts, unlike the common warts, grow inward. A person suffering from plantar warts may have difficulty in walking due to pain.

Manifestations of the Human Papilloma Virus can also be determined by the presence of warts around the fingernails.

Another manifestation of HPV is through the presence of Genital Warts. This type of HPV infection is usually caused by unsafe sex. One of the partners may already have the virus and is transmitted during the process of coitus.

The most dangerous manifestation of the Human Papilloma Virus is the presence of cancer. This is most especially true in women who develop cervical cancer. This can usually be detected with the presence of warts on the genital area. An abnormal result of the pap smear is partially indicative of cervical cancer. This can diagnosed thoroughly through several other clinical and lab examinations.


There is no known treatment for the HPV itself but there are certain medications given to infected patients to prevent complications as well as to reduce morbidity. Medications given are on a case to case basis. It all depends on the location as well as the degree of the infection. Classifications of drugs that are included in the pharmacotherapy of Human Papilloma Virus are immune response modifiers, antimitotic agents, antimetabolites, keratolytics, and topical ointments.

As of June 8, 2006, a vaccine for the Human Papilloma Virus has been developed. It can protect a person from the initial infection of the HPV type 16 and 18. The vaccine also gives immunity to the HPV types 6 and 11 which are accounted for 90 percent of genital warts. These vaccines however have no effect whatsoever to patients who are already infected with the Human Papilloma Virus.


Other preventive measure in acquiring HPV is through the practice of safe sex specifically with the use of condom. For women, it is best to avoid cigarette smoking since carcinogens from the cigarette or tobacco are concentrated on the cervix. This increases the risk of a woman to develop cervical cancer especially when the Human Papilloma Virus is present.

It has also been observed that taking of vitamins can help prevent the infection of HPV. Vitamins included in the list are Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E. Other nutritional substances that aid in HPV infection prevention include folic acid and carotenoids. Fruits and vegetables can also decrease the risk of acquiring or the development of Human Papilloma Virus.
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