human papillomavirus

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(HPV) a virus – a member of the papovavirus group – that causes warts, including genital warts. There are over 50 strains of HPV: certain strains are considered to be causative factors in the development of anal and genital cancers, especially cervical cancer, but additional factors are necessary before the cells become malignant. HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. In women the presence of HPV may be detected on colposcopic examination, although techniques using DNA amplification (see polymerase chain reaction) give more accurate results and suggest that up to 40% of a normal, apparently healthy, female population may harbour these viruses. In women with an abnormal cervical smear, the DNA test is found to be positive in a much higher percentage and is therefore a useful indicator of a high risk of developing cancer of the cervix. The HPV vaccine provides protection against strains of HPV associated with cervical cancer and other precancerous conditions (Ceravix, Gardasil) and against genital warts (Gardasil).

Subjects: Medicine and Health — Genetics and Genomics.

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