The Characteristics of Human Papillomavirus

High-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) is the main cause of cervical cancer. In fact, this cancer is one of the most frequent and devastating cancers in women, especially in developing countries.
The Characteristics of Human Papillomavirus

Last update: 23 May, 2021

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is often associated with different lesions that can be either benign or malignant. It’s a widespread sexually transmitted disease that’s also associated with cervical cancer (CCU).

This virus usually appears when young people begin to have sex. In fact, most of those affected are under 25 years old.

Most of the infections caused by this virus are transitory. They’re generally eliminated by the body in a period of one to two years. In fact, only a small number of these lesions persist over time. These types of conditions are the ones that can cause premalignant and malignant lesions in the cervix.

High-risk human papillomavirus is the main cause of cervical cancer. In turn, this cancer is one of the most frequent and destructive ones in women, especially in developing countries. That’s the reason why the scientific interest in knowing more about this virus has increased in recent years.

“She placed the beer in front of him. “Keep on wishing, babe,” she purred. “I’m STD free and want to remain that way.”

-Katherine McIntyre-

Two people hugging.

Lesions associated with human papillomavirus

This virus may either manifest as benign lesions or invasive cancer.

Benign lesions associated with HPV

These warts are the most widespread sexually transmitted disease worldwide, caused by low-risk HPV 6 and 11.

They’re slow growing and can affect the vulva, vagina, cervix, anus, penis, mouth, and larynx. Condylomas may occur singly or form clusters covering the genital and anal area. These can be of two types:

  • Condyloma acuminatum is easy to diagnose since it forms visible cauliflower-shaped structures.
  • Flat condyloma isn’t easy to diagnose. Thus, professionals with solid training use specific techniques to diagnose it.

Research indicates that it affects more women than men. These lesions usually appear in women between the ages of 25 and 34.

Premalignant lesions

A woman’s immune system should be able to clear human papillomavirus within one to two years.

Furthermore, cellular alterations may begin to appear if these lesions are present in a viral form, especially high-risk HPV, leading to the development of premalignant lesions. The name of those that occur in the cervix is “cervical intraepithelial lesions” and science classifies them as:

  • Low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion.
  • High-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion.

Cervical uterine cancer

This is the third most frequent cancer and the second leading cause of death in women worldwide. Its global distribution shows a close relationship with the level of socio-economic development.

Thus, incidence and mortality rates tend to be at least five times higher in underdeveloped countries than in more developed ones. Epithelial tumors are the most frequent histological types of cervical cancer. They’re classified into:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma is the most frequent and represents approximately 80 percent of cases. It originates from the pavement epithelium.
  • Cervical adenocarcinoma constitutes 15 percent of cases and develops from precursor lesions called adenocarcinoma in situ.
  • Adenosquamous and neuroendocrine carcinomas constitute five percent of cases.

There’s a connection between cervical cancer and high-risk HPV. Genotypes 16 and 18 are responsible for approximately 80 percent of cases. Moreover, this tumor originates at the squamocolumnar junction.

A woman with a headache.

Human papillomavirus risk factors in adolescents and young adults

These are some of the risk factors that can lead to the appearance of human papillomavirus:

  • It usually appears in women between the ages of 15 and 25, so those in this group are considered at-risk.
  • Having sex at a young age.
  • Multiple sexual partners. Researchers are still unsure about whether it occurs mainly in heterosexual relationships. Further studies are required.
  • Finally, a woman’s age at her first delivery.

In conclusion, the human papillomavirus is both a sexually transmitted disease and a risk factor for the appearance of cervical cancer. Thus, it’s important to continue to invest in research and the control of known risk factors.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Torre, L. A., Bray, F., Siegel, R. L., Ferlay, J., Lortet‐Tieulent, J., & Jemal, A. (2015). Global cancer statistics, 2012. CA: a cancer journal for clinicians, 65(2), 87-108.
  • Domínguez Bauta, S. R., Trujillo Perdomo, T., Aguilar Fabré, K., & Hernández Menéndez, M. (2018). Infección por el virus del papiloma humano en adolescentes y adultas jóvenes. Revista Cubana de Obstetricia y Ginecología, 44(1), 1-13.
  • Cortés Alfaro, A., Fiffe, Y. M., García Roche, R., Mezquía Valera, A., & Pérez Sosa, D. (2007). Características sociodemográficas y del comportamiento sexual y reproductivo en adolescentes y jóvenes. Revista Cubana de Medicina General Integral, 23(1), 0-0.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.