Human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections, yet many people remain confused or unaware of its causes and effects. HPV can lead to serious health complications if left untreated, including genital warts and even cervical cancer. It’s important that everyone understand the basics of this virus in order to protect themselves against it.
In this post, we will answer some of the most frequently asked questions about HPV infection, including what it is, how it is transmitted, how to avoid being infected, and the testing and treatment options that are available. By understanding the answers to these questions and taking appropriate action, you will be better equipped to protect yourself against the infection or to manage it if you have already been infected.
What is HPV?
HPV stands for human papillomavirus. It is a virus that can be spread through sexual contact with an infected person, including both genital and oral sex. There are more than 150 types of HPV, some of which cause warts on different parts of the body while others cause no visible symptoms at all.
How common is HPV?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 80 million Americans are currently infected with HPV and it is estimated that nearly 80 million more people will become infected in the next decade.
How is HPV transmitted?
HPV is mainly transmitted through sexual activities, such as vaginal and anal intercourse or oral sex. It can be spread even when there are no visible signs or symptoms present, making it difficult to detect and protect against. HPV can also be passed from mother to child during childbirth.
What are the symptoms of HPV?
In some cases, HPV can cause genital warts. These warts can appear on the penis, vulva, anus, or upper thighs. Other symptoms of HPV include itching, burning, and pain in the area where the warts are located. In some cases, HPV can lead to certain types of cancer including cervical cancer, anal cancer, and oropharyngeal cancer. HPV can be asymptomatic, meaning there are no visible signs or symptoms. This makes it difficult to detect, which can lead to the further spread of the virus.
Is HPV dangerous?
Yes, HPV can be dangerous if left untreated. Ignoring an HPV infection can lead to cancer in the infected individual. This is why it is important to get tested and properly treated if you think you may have been exposed to the virus.
How do I protect myself from HPV?
One important way to prevent yourself from being infected with the HPV virus is to practice safe sex. That means using condoms or other forms of barrier protection every time you engage in sexual activity. Additionally, you can get vaccinated against some of the more dangerous types of HPV. The CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 11 and 12 years old receive two doses of the HPV vaccine. If you are under the age of 26, it is often suggested that you receive three vaccine doses depending on your initial vaccination date. Adults aged 26-45 are also eligible to receive the HPV vaccine, yet it will provide less benefit than if you were under the age of 26 for both doses. If you fall into the 26-45 year age group, speak with your provider for more information to determine if you are a good candidate. While the HPV vaccine can prevent new infections of the virus, it does not treat existing infections.
What should I do if I think I have HPV?
If you’re concerned that you may have contracted HPV, be sure to get tested immediately. At RealOptions Obria Medical Clinics, we prioritize your well-being and safety above all. That is why our clinic offers testing for HPV. If you’re ready to be tested, schedule an appointment here.
How is testing done for HPV?
HPV testing is done via a pap smear. At Real Options, we offer low to no-cost pap smears as part of our Well Woman Care program. During the pap smear, we collect a sample via a swab from the cervix. The sample is then sent for testing at our lab partner, Quest Diagnostics, to see if there are any abnormal cells present which could be an indication of HPV.
How is HPV treated?
If you test positive for HPV, we can begin the discussion of the best treatment options with you. In some cases, no treatment is necessary because the virus may go away on its own. If genital warts are present, they can often be treated with topical ointments or cryotherapy (freezing). In more serious cases, surgery may be necessary. At Real Options, we can provide you with the necessary education to help you learn how to manage your HPV and any associated health risks.
Does Medi-Cal cover testing and treatment for HPV?
Yes! Medi-Cal covers the testing services we provide for HPV through Quest Diagnostics here at RealOptions Obria Medical Clinics. If your results indicate an active HPV infection, our medical team will guide you to receive specialized treatment from your county health department. Rest assured that no matter what the outcome of your test may be, we are here with you every step of the way!
Not familiar with Medi-Cal? It is low-cost or no-cost health insurance for those living in California that meet certain eligibility requirements. If you have a Medi-Cal plan, you can get tested at RealOptions for HPV and other infections at no cost or low cost to you.
If you are unsure if you qualify for Medi-Cal coverage, don’t worry! There are a few simple ways to find out if you can enroll:
- Contact MCAP at (800) 433-2611.
- Call Covered California at (800) 300-1506.
- Apply online at CoveredCA.com. via email with a confirmation or notification for the best available time.
I think I’m ready to get tested. How do I do that?
Schedule an appointment for testing at one of our locations today or call:
400 30th St #401
Oakland, CA 94609
801 Brewster Ave Unit 21
Redwood City, CA 94063
1671 The Alameda #101
San Jose, CA
12 N White Rd
San Jose, CA
33523 Western Ave.
Union City, CA 94857
Medical information provided by the CDC: