HPV Screening, Vaccines and Treatment
Besides visible external genital warts, there is no screening process for HPV in men. Sexually active women, however, should adhere to annual gynecological exams to check for genital warts surfacing internally. The risk of cancers from HPV is generally low, but early detection proves better for treatment. As well, both men and women who have genital warts or who have had sex with someone known to be infected with HPV should see a doctor. Tissue samples taken from genital warts can determine the type or strain of HPV, thus providing important information to both the patient and doctor regarding possible risk factors for other complications.
Among the most unknown facts about genital warts and genital HPV is how they can be cured and/or treated. Although there is no cure for the HPV virus once it has been contracted, there are two HPV vaccines available for types 6 and 11–which cause genital warts in both males and females–and types 16 and 18, the two strains most responsible for causing cervical cancers. A note of caution: the virus running its natural course (i.e., leaving the body) does not instill immunity or make one less susceptible to other HPV strains or other STIs.
The good news is that genital warts are treatable. While this does not remove the virus itself (you can still pass the virus on to others), there are several options available for treating warts. Some can be done at a doctor's office and others can be prescribed for use at home.
Imiquimod is a prescription medication that helps by enhancing the immune system in fighting against genital wart growth. Podofilox works by destroying genital wart tissue. Both creams can be prescribed for use at home.
Podophyllin and trichloroacetic acid (TCA) are topical treatments administered by a doctor.
Cryotherapy and Electrocauterization
Cryotherapy involves using liquid nitrogen to freeze off genital warts. Electrocauterization, or electrocautery, uses an electrical current that burns warts off.
Surgical and Laser Removal
The loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) removes genital warts by passing a sharp loop-shaped instrument under warts to cut them out of the affected skin. Other surgical procedures involve making surgical excisions using a scalpel. The use of lasers for removing genital warts is also an option.
For RRP, a combination of both surgical and antiviral treatments is most commonly administered.