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Dr Bheena, Beacon Hospital, What is HPV


What is HPV?

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a group of over 200 viruses, impacting both men and women globally.

It is one of the most widespread sexually transmitted infections (STIs), often leading to genital warts, and in some cases, cancer.

There are over 200 strains of HPV. While most strains result in genital warts that usually clear within a couple of years, there are 13 higher risk strains that can lead to serious conditions such as cervical, vaginal, penile, anal, and oropharynx (mouth/throat) cancers.

Regular sexual health screening is crucial because HPV infection usually has no symptoms, making early detection through routine screenings crucial for timely intervention.


How can I protect myself against HPV?

There are several things you can do to protect yourself against HPV and reduce your risk of getting it.

  1. Practicing safe sex by using condoms consistently & correctly
  2. HPV Vaccination (Gardasil 9 vaccine)
  3. Having regular sexual health checkups, e.g. pap smears (cervical screening)


Who is at risk of HPV?

Both men and women who participate in unprotected sex are at risk of contracting HPV and HPV-related illnesses regardless of age.

Practicing safe sex by using condoms consistently and correctly, can help reduce the risk of HPV transmission.

While HPV is usually a sexually transmitted infection, it is still possible to get infected if one’s mouth, throat, or areas surrounding the genitalia come into contact with the virus.



Who should go for HPV vaccination?

The most effective way to prevent HPV is through vaccination. HPV vaccination not only prevents cancer by boosting your immunity but also protects against genital warts and reduces the risk of HPV-related cancers.

Both males and females from age 9 to 45 are recommended to take the HPV vaccine, ideally before they become sexually active. The Gardasil 9 vaccine provides protection against 9 HPV strains (HPV types 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58).

The HPV vaccine can prevent over 90% of cancers caused by HPV, including cervical, anal, vaginal, and vulvar precancers (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022).

At Beacon Hospital, we offer the HPV vaccine for individuals aged 18 and above.



HPV in Men:

Although commonly linked to cervical cancer in females, HPV also affects men.

The HPV virus can be transmitted through sexual activity, leading to the development of genital warts in the affected area. While usually benign, certain HPV strains can lead to more serious health issues, including cancers of the anus, penis, and oropharynx.



HPV in Women:

In Malaysia, cervical cancer is the 3rd most common cancer among women. Every year, approximately 2,000 Malaysian women are diagnosed with cervical cancer.  However, did you know cervical cancer is preventable?

According to WHO, over 95% of cervical cancer is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) through sexual contact.

Cervical cancer develops from the abnormal cells of the cervix  due to persistent Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection and cellular damage to healthy cells.



Why is Sexual Health Screening Important?

Regular sexual health screening (e.g. pap smears) is crucial because HPV infection usually has no symptoms, making early detection through routine screenings crucial for timely intervention.



Understanding the risks associated with HPV and taking preventive measures, such as vaccination and safe sex practices, is crucial for maintaining overall health and well-being.

By raising awareness and promoting education about HPV, we can work towards reducing the prevalence of this virus and its associated health consequences in both men and women.


Dr Bheena Vyshali

Consultant Gynaecologist

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