Jakarta, IO – Genital warts are frequently underestimated because they do not show other symptoms other than the warts themselves, even though they have a 50% chance of transforming into cervical cancer if not quickly and properly treated. This illness, which is 90% caused by Type 6 and Type 11 Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), must be caught early. Even though the type of HPV that causes genital warts is different from the one causing cervical cancer, in some cases, genital warts within the cervix or the vagina may cause cervical dysplasia, which in turn might develop into cancer. 

“Genital warts affect humid tissues in the genital area. They are small, meat-colored bumps that are sometimes irregularly-shaped, similar to a cauliflower. It is usually benign, causing little trouble to sufferers other than slight itches or discomfort in the genital area in general. These might intensify during sex, and even cause bleeding,” explained dr. Amelia “Amel” Setiawati Soebyanto, Sp.DV, Pramudia Clinic’s dermato-venereology specialist, in the “Bringing Women’s Genital Warts into the Light” webinar held on Wednesday (15/06/2022). 

Those with highest risk are people who are sexually promiscuous in terms of frequency and intensity of contact, especially if they do not wear safeguards (condoms) when having sex; those who have a previous history of STDs; and persons known to have unhealthy lifestyle (e.g. regular consumption of alcohol and tobacco). Sufferers of seropositive HIV have an extremely high risk of catching HPV virus infection. Therefore, it is extremely important to maintain genital hygiene, such as by wearing sweat-absorbent underpants and replacing tampons and menstrual pads once every four hours or more frequently. 

The global incidence of genital warts among women in 2001-2012 is 120.5 cases per 100,000 persons per year, with 24 year-old women being the most numerous sufferers. In Indonesia, according to the 2007-2011 Consolidated STD Incidence Report from 12 Educational Hospital, genital warts is one of the Top 3, with the highest distribution among 25- 45 year old women (62.5%). “Other than from sexual intercourse, which causes direct contact with the mucus of sufferers, infection may also be transmitted from mother to baby during childbirth. Though rare, infection may also occur due to direct and indirect contact with HPV-contaminated items (fomites). Once you suffer from genital warts, you must beware, because it is a recurring illness,” dr. Amel said. 

Preventable with Vaccination 

Lowered immunity (immunosuppression), repeated infection from sexual contact, or sub-clinical (hidden or unknown) lesions, may cause recurrence of the disease. Even when the prognosis is good, recurrence is a frequent occurrence. “Diagnosis is primarily determined through direct clinical checks. Supplementary checks include acetic acid test, Pap smear, pathological tests, colposcopy (checks using optical magnifiers), and identification of HPV genomes. However, you only need to perform clinical checks, acetic acid tests, and Pap smears regularly. Proper diagnosis is the first step before determining the correct therapy,” dr. Amelia said. 

Treatment is mostly performed by controlling lesions by smearing chemicals, performing electro-cauterization, cryotherapy, lasering, and surgical excisions. “The considerations used to determine which therapy to give is made according to the size, intensity, and siting of the lesion; complications relating to the therapy; the patients’ preferences; the availability of the therapy; and comorbidity. Up to now, there are no specific drugs that can prevent the virus’ replication. Therefore, treatment is still meant to eliminate clinical symptoms instead of the virus. This is the cause of recurrence, which will in turn causes psychological and financial problems to the patient. A more certain preventive step is through HPV vaccination, which can also be administered to genital wart sufferers who already have other medical treatments,” she concluded. (est)




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