Human Papilloma Virus or HPV, some important facts and info

There are important reasons why we hear a lot about Human Papilloma Virus or HPV. Yet, research into this large family of papilloma viruses or PVs began by studying those that infect animals, including all mammals – from apes to zebras – as well as birds, turtles and even snakes.

But before getting to the scientific discoveries made about PVs, first consider the mythic Jackalope; a jackrabbit thought to have the horns of an antelope. 

The folklore surrounding the Jackalope most likely began with people who hunted rabbits, found to have big tumours growing out of their heads and/or bodies. 

Research & Discovery

It wasn’t until the 1930s that scientists began researching PV infections in rabbits, cattle and chickens. And a Nobel Prize-winning breakthrough came when virologist, Francis Rous, showed how cancer could be transmitted by a papilloma virus. This discovery then led to decades more research, and today it is known that certain strains of HPV can cause mutations leading to cancer. 

According to the National Cancer Institute, some human cancers can take as long as 10 to 30 years to develop, a period of time during which there will be no symptoms. 

HPV can also cause warts on the fingers, feet (plantar warts), and anogenital warts that can erupt on the penis, vulva, anus or the lining of the vagina, cervix or rectum.

Essentially, HPV is a skin infection transmitted through intimate skin-to-skin contact, and where exchange of body fluids is not required for infection to occur. Technically, this means that intercourse is not required, even though HPV is considered a sexually transmitted infection.

Cancers in Males

  • Anus
  • Throat
  • Penis
  • Head and neck

Cancers in Females

  • Cervix
  • Vulva
  • Vagina
  • Anus
  • Head and neck

Good News!

Australia, where the vaccine was developed and first launched in 2007, is on track to become the first country to eradicate cervical cancer. The key to success is vaccinating girls (and now boys) before young adulthood.

If you have any questions about HPV or the vaccine please know that our pharmacists are always here to help.

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