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Question for doctors-to-be....

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by jimi, Feb 2, 2001.

  1. jimi

    jimi Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Dec 6, 2000
    Hello medical students!

    I have a little medical question: I was volunteering in a clinic the other day. A girl came in for a check up (I don't know what the context was) and the doctor quickly diagnosed her with "HPV" and then left. (It's a free clinic so she didn't have much time to spend with one patient).

    The girl was shocked and had a ton of questions but since I have no clue what "HPV" is I was not much help.

    So I was wondering if anyone could enlighten me on this topic. What is it and is it curable?
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  3. Becket

    Becket Senior Member 15+ Year Member

    Sep 15, 2000
    HPV stands for Human Papillomavirus. It's a sexually transmitted virus that comes in many different subtypes. Some subtypes cause genital warts (and perhaps other things that I'm not sure of), while others predispose to cervical cancer. I'm guessing that any growths can be removed, but I'm not sure there's any true way to eliminate the virus from the body. They'll also want to follow her closely for any signs of cervical dysplasia (i.e. Pap smears).
  4. Plantastic

    Plantastic Junior Member 10+ Year Member

    Dec 19, 2000
    Coulmbus, OH USA

    Despite the doom-filled descriptions most people offer for this VERY common virus, it is, in most cases, pretty benign. Some strains have been linked to cervical cancer. I think all the stigma comes from the fact that it is a dreaded "STD". I believe planned parenthood has a fact sheet on HPV that explains it thoroughly yet simply. Their address is "". Type in "HPV" as the key word and it will lead you to it. I believe it says about 1 in 10 people have "HPV", however, from my experience that is a very conservative number. With most people I know that have been diagnosed with HPV, their initial reaction is horror, then guilt, then they read about it and it is a lot less paramount than they believed at first.
  5. turtleboard

    turtleboard SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

    Jun 3, 1999
    New York, New York
    I actually remember hearing something about how way more than half the American population is infected with HPV and doesn't even know it. Like the other posters said it's fairly benign but predisposes the carrier to certain cancers. When does it strike? I dunno. So much for the second-year's arsenal of knowledge... [​IMG]

    Tim W. of N.Y.C.
  6. dancew/me

    dancew/me New Member

    Feb 13, 2001
    At the University of Washington, they are doing considerable studies on HPV. Over the course of following 500 female students, 60% of the students who were HPV- at the beginning of their freshman year of undergraduate became HPV+. Scary. Now they are trying a new phase of study that incorporates testing me also. I think that within the many types (80+) of HPV, types 16, 18, 31, and 45 show more than 93% of cases result in cervical cancer cases. The researchers here at UW think that HPV will eventually become as prevalent as Herpes. I think that HPV studies are still fairly young, and vaccines are not available.
    From what I have heard, there is no way of "curing" a person of the virus, males are often asymptomatic carriers, and condoms are not protective. has great info! I hope this is current and helpful to someone.
  7. dancew/me

    dancew/me New Member

    Feb 13, 2001
    sorry that one sentence was:
    "Now they are trying a new phase of study that incorporates testing MEN also." (not me) I promise that I WILL proofread next time!
  8. fiatslug

    fiatslug Senior Member Physician 10+ Year Member

    May 8, 2000
    dance: you can edit your posts, too, if you like.

    I've heard that upwards of 80% of the sexually active population carries at least one strain of HPV. The scary part is, some strains are spread by skin to skin contact; thus condoms are not 100% effective in preventing transmission, and many strains are symptomless. What Dance says about the specific strains that are directly correlated with cervical cancer is true and frightening. If you are a woman, and you pick up one of those strains, you are very likely to get cervical cancer. Since pap tests don't test for the genetic identity of which HPV virus you are infected with, you could have one of the "killer" strains (for lack of a better word) of HPV and not know it.

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