HPV: Causes, Types, Symptoms, Treatments and Prevention

Low-Risk HPV vs. High-Risk HPV

The risk levels of the different strains of the human papillomavirus are never the same. Some are more worrisome to have than others. Therefore, the virus is often classified into two broad categories, namely: low-risk HPV and high-risk HPV.

Low-risk strains

The kinds of HPV that don’t cause serious health issues are categorized as low-risk HPV strains. They may not produce any symptoms at all and will usually vanish on their own once your body builds immunity against them.

But some low-risk strains can cause genital warts. Two strains, HPV 6 and 11, are believed to be responsible for around 90 percent of genital wart cases. These bumps typically appear weeks or months after having sex with an infected person.

Low-risk HPV strains may bring about mild, abnormal changes in the cervix’s surface cells (cervical dysplasia). But they rarely progress into cancer.

High-risk strains

These are the types of HPV that carry a significant risk of serious health issues. They lead to severe cervical dysplasia and certain cancers mentioned above.

There are about a dozen strains, at least, that fall into this category. The two most notable ones are HPV 16 and 18. These are believed to be responsible for most cases of cancer linked to this virus. Among other high-risk strains of HPV are HPV types 31, 33, 45 and 52 as well.

However, you should know that while these high-risk strains can cause cancer, not everyone will develop cancer if infected.

HPV Testing

Sadly, there is no standard test that can help diagnose an HPV infection. Many people only become aware they have HPV after noticing warts in their genital areas. Others only find out when they have developed more serious health issues, such as cancer.

However, tests used for cervical cancer screening (Pap tests) can help detect the virus on time. But they are strictly for women and not for men or adolescents.

Regular Pap tests are important for every woman. They can help detect and treat high-risk HPV infections before they turn into cancer.



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