HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. It is rampant in sexually active men and women of all ages to the extent that almost 80% are affected with the virus at some point in their lives. There are more than 40 types typically transmitted through sexual contact and some of which, could cause genital warts and cancers. It is transmitted by engaging in vaginal, oral or anal sex with an HPV carrier. HPV can be passed over even when the infected person is asymptomatic. The symptoms of HPV can manifest years after you’ve had sex with the infected person. HPV can cause cancers like cervical, vulva, anal and also oropharyngeal (oral) cancer.
According to a study conducted by the New Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), men are more susceptible to oral HPV infections than women. The study showed that about 10% of men contracted an oral HPV infection compared with 3.6 % of women. Many a times, the body’s innate immune system is capable of clearing the infection, but persistent infections can lead to other complications. People infected with an oral HPV infection can develop oropharyngeal cancers, or cancers of the tongue, tonsils or back of the mouth. It has been found that the HPV-16 strain is 14 more times likely to cause oral cancer than infections with other strains.
Why are men at a higher risk?
The CDC researchers found that the risk of oral infection increased with an increase in the number of sexual partners. The actual reason why men are more susceptible is not yet clear. However, researchers say that the hormonal differences in women may play a protective role, making the risk lesser in women than in men. Some experts speculate that the HPV rates for men and women are similar, but it seems that the virus is more virulent in men. Smoking is also featured as an independent risk factor in causing an oral HPV infection. Smoking weakens the immune system and makes the body susceptible to the virus. Smoking may also make the transmission more likely by damaging the inner lining of the mouth. Just like smokers, alcohol users too, have a higher incidence of HPV infection. Statistics suggest that more than 20% of those who said they smoke 20 or more cigarettes per day have reported oral HPV infection. The disease prevalence also rises with increasing age.
How does one prevent an oral HPV infection?
The medical fraternity has stressed on the importance of getting young children aged between 11-14 years vaccinated before they become sexually active. However, vaccines are not foolproof. They are also not effective against other STDs and are unable to cure an existing infection. Moreover, doctors still recommend that people should be regularly screened for HPV infections despite the vaccinations. With no comprehensive cure available for combating the infection, growing research on natural alternatives like plants and homeopathic ingredients has led scientists to test other modalities of treatment. Many natural herbs have found to exhibit strong antiviral and immune boosting properties that help the body in getting rid of the viral infections. Homeopathic nosodes that are potentized bio-energetic imprints of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) are traditionally believed to empower the immune system. They do not contain any viral matter that could lead to a higher viral load or infection.
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