Human papillomavirus (Human papillomavirus, HPV, HPV) – a type of DNA-containing viruses, belong to the papovirus family. Intracellular parasites not only lead to the development of benign skin formations (warts, papillomas, warts), but also have a pronounced oncogenic activity. Papillomavirus infection is the source of many troubles, ranging from aesthetic to the threat of degeneration into a malignant tumor.
HPV infection is dangerous cell degeneration into malignant neoplasms
The main problems from an epidemiological point of view are carrier carriage that is colossal in percentage terms (according to some sources, up to 90% of people) and transmission through physical contact, including sexual contact. The most unpleasant are the primary manifestations associated with damage to the anogenital zone, which occur, on average, in 1% of the sexually active population.
The characteristics of the pathogen and its most pathogenic varieties
The group of human papillomaviruses is very diverse, divided into the following genera:
- α – papillomaviruses;
- ν- papillomaviruses.
Further, each genus includes several species (27 in total), and the species, respectively, several more strains (the so-called “pure cultures”). Alphapapillomaviruses, which are parasitic on the cells of the genital organs and perianal zone, are considered the most dangerous for humans. Other varieties affect only the skin of the body.
In men, highly oncogenic types of papillomaviruses (16 and 18) cause up to 92% of cases of anal cancer, up to 63% of cases of penile cancer. The highest oncogenic potential is in type 16.
HPV 16 – the most oncogenic of all human papilloma viruses
Sources of infection and risk factors
The main route of infection with oncogenic HPV species is through sexual contact. Moreover, the risk of infection directly correlates with the number of partners. Sexual contact does not have to be completed, with fairly explicit caresses, the virus can be transmitted from partner to partner during contact of the mucous membrane of the genitals and hands. In this case, the incidence rate by age group is a two-wave curve, with peaks at the level of 17-25 years and 35-55 years (socially determined periods of high sexual activity).
The main route of transmission of the human papilloma virus is through sexual contact
Conditions that dramatically increase the risk of HPV infection:
- decreased immunity (taking immunosuppressants or the influence of adverse exogenous factors);
- stressful situations (especially prolonged neurotization).
Human papillomaviruses have a pronounced tropism for skin cells and mucous membranes, subdivided, respectively, into dermotropic and mucosotropic. Cases of papillomatosis of internal organs are rare, they are usually a hereditary pathology. Once in the cell, the virus can integrate into the chromosomal DNA or exist as an exosome – a microscopic inclusion. The first type of parasitism is considered unfavorable. Introducing the host cell’s DNA structure, viral genes provoke its atypical changes, initiating mutations of certain genes. The end result of this process is malignancy as a result of uncontrolled division of the affected cell. In addition, HPV genes are able to suppress cellular immunity by synthesizing special types of proteins that block the antiviral and antitumor activity of human leukocyte interferon and disrupt the function of the immune system to recognize pathologically altered cells.
The process of cell degeneration under the influence of HPV lasts more than a decade
Clinical signs in men
Like any other, the incubation period is due to a number of risk factors already listed, as is HPV infection. It can vary from one to twelve months. In individuals with strong immunity, leading a healthy lifestyle, the virus can persist for many years, manifesting against the background of internal or external pathogenic effects on the body.
Causing proliferation of the epithelium, papillomavirus leads to the appearance of typical skin lesions.
- Papillomas (warts) are small tumor-like elements of a benign nature, flesh-colored, often have a leg. Most often localized on the neck, inner surface of the arm, in the axillary and perineal zones, without affecting the skin of the external genital organs. They are single or grouped.
- Genital warts – warts with pointed edges, prone to keratinization of the outer layer. The area of the perineum, anus, skin of the penis, buttocks is affected, being a pathognomonic sign of the genital transmission of infection.
Papovirus is manifested by warts or genital warts.
Oncogenic varieties of HPV types 16 and 18 are usually manifested by anogenital warts, in some cases (changes in the hormonal background in pregnant women, adolescents, in a number of other conditions) that tend to merge and grow (extensive growths have the characteristic appearance of a cock crest or cauliflower). In men, such phenomena, along with infection, serve as an alarming signal of a sharp suppression of immunity.
HPV-16 detected, what to do?
Diagnosis of human papillomavirus infection is based on external signs. It usually does not cause difficulties, except for determining the type or strain of the virus itself, for which biopsy, PCR and serological methods are used.
Unfortunately, the method of the final destruction of the pathogen has not yet been found. The principles of treatment remain:
Removal of papillomas is one of the methods for treating HPV 16
- physical removal of formations (cryodestruction, electro-, laser-coagulation, surgical excision);
- therapy with antiviral drugs of the interferon class to prevent relapse.
In addition, numerous cases of self-healing at different time intervals (from 6 months to a year) in the vast majority of infected people should be noted. Be that as it may, the appearance of any skin elements is an occasion to contact a specialist – a dermatologist.
Read the same: Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccines