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HPV is a particularly dangerous disease because few people know they have it. This unawareness may make those with HPV less likely to engage in safe sexual practices and seek treatment for their condition. These behaviors make it all the easier for HPV to be passed from one person to the next. Gynecologists stress the importance of regular Pap smears so that women with HPV can become aware of their health needs and more vigilant about protecting others from future transmission.

Transmission

The medical community has identified approximately 200 strains of HPV. Of these strains, about three-dozen can be passed from person to person through sexual contact . Healthcare providers urge all individuals who are sexually active to use condoms. Though condoms cannot provide complete protection against HPV transmission, they can significantly reduce the risk. Seeking a monogamous relationship with a partner free from HPV can also reduce the risk of infection. Some women may also be eligible for a special vaccination that prevents some strains of the virus.

Infection

Several HPV strains that are transmitted through sexual contact may develop into genital warts, which are an evident indication of the virus’s presence. Other strains contribute to cervical cancer. Cancer develops when HPV modifies the makeup of the cervical cells. These abnormal cells can grow without restraint and simultaneously kill healthy tissue.

Complications

The HPV strains that cause cervical cancer may be present in the body for years before a woman is aware of her infection status. Only a Pap smear can provide an early indication of HPV and its impact on cervical tissue. Without regular visits to the gynecologist, unabated HPV and subsequent cervical cancer may be fatal.

When was the last time that you received a Pap smear? To get up-to-date on your health screenings, call Washington Surgi-Clinic at (202) 659-9403 for an appointment . Our women’s clinic provides a wide range of services, including Pap smears and HIV testing

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