Human papillomavirus is a sexually transmitted infection caused by a group of viruses that can affect the skin, mouth, throat and genital area. There are over one hundred types and about 40 can affect the genital area. It is passed on if you have sex with a person already infected with HPV. This can be by vaginal, anal or oral sex. It can also be passed from a pregnant mother to her unborn baby.
If you are at risk of picking up any sexually transmitted infections, then it is highly advisable to be tested and treated without delay. Early treatment reduces the risk of complications in the future. Testing involves a blood test and / or cervical smear test which can be booked with our specialist nurse at Cosmopolitan Medical Clinic.
If the test is positive, then you may need further testing to see if you have picked up any other infections. At Cosmopolitan Medical Clinic, our doctor or nurse will provide you with impartial and confidential advice based on your sexual history and symptoms, and recommend the most appropriate screening / testing.
"Smear test" - Pap Thin Prep is a way of picking up abnormal cells in the cervix before they progress to cancer. It's been shown that early detection and treatment of cervical abnormalities picked up by screening can prevent three-quarters of cervical cancers.
The NHS cervical screening programme involves checking women between the ages of 25 and 64 every three to five years for early cervical abnormalities. Unfortunately there are countless reports in the press of women, some even younger than 25 who have developed cervical cancer within a short space of time. Private smear tests (using the latest liquid based cytology (LBC)) can be performed at any age, can be repeated annually (or more frequently) and our results are back in 2—3 working days.
Regular cervical screening is the best way to identify abnormal cell changes in the cervix, so it's important that all girls who receive the HPV vaccine also have regular cervical screening once of a suitable age.
ADMINISTRATION DOSAGE AND SCHEDULE
Since the immunisation programme began on a three-dose schedule, it has been established that a two-dose schedule is as effective as a course of three. From 2014, a two-dose schedule has been recommended, as long as vaccination is started before the patient's 15th birthday.
The three-dose schedule for teenagers over the age of 15 is as follows:
First dose: 0.5 ml given.
Second dose: 0.5 ml given at least one month after the first dose.
Third dose: 0.5 ml given at least three months after the second dose.
The two dose course for teenagers between the ages 11 and 13 years:
First dose: 0.5 ml given.
Second dose: 0.5 ml dose given 6-24 months after first dose.
Wearing a condom during sex helps to reduce the risk of catching HPV but does not eliminate it. However, as condoms do not cover the entire genital area and are often put on after sexual contact has begun, a condom is no guarantee against the spread of HPV. The risk of infection increases with the number of changes of sexual partner.
Although most teenagers don't start having sex until after they're 16 years of age, it's important that they get this protection early enough and in good time - getting the vaccine as early as possible will protect them in the future. There are two HPV vaccines available in the UK and they are highly effective at preventing the infection of susceptible women with the HPV types covered by the vaccine.
Cervarix® is licensed for individuals from the age of 9 years but only protects against HPV16 and HPV18.
Gardasil® protects against four strains of HPV - HPV16, HPV18 and HPV6 and HPV11. This means that it also protects against genital warts as well as cervical cancer, as HPV 6 and 11 cause the majority of cases of genital warts.
In fact, Gardasil® is 99% effective at preventing genital warts. The national NHS immunisation programme provides vaccination for girls aged 11 to 18. At present, the national NHS immunisation programme does not provide vaccinations for girls younger than 9 or older than 18, nor does it provide vaccination to boys.
HPV vaccines are highly effective at preventing the infection of susceptible women with the HPV types covered by the vaccine. In clinical trials, both vaccines are over 99% effective at preventing pre-cancerous lesions associated with HPV types 16 or 18 in young women.
At Cosmopolitan Medical Clinic we only administer Gardasil® to all male and female children and adults from the age of 9.
There is no treatment for HPV. Most women who acquire HPV are able to clear the infection through their own immune system. Persistent presence of high-risk types of HPV can cause cervical lesions which, over time may develop into cancer if untreated.
Have a look at our pricing table for more information about the other tests which are available.