Genital Viruses


This site will cover the trasmition, symptoms, prevelence, treatment and other pertinent information about the human papillomaviruses (HPV) and the herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) which causes genital herpes. Both of these viruses have a huge impact on our species, and we hope that the knowledge provided bellow will help prevent the spread of these and other viruses similar, and the conditions they cause.

Sexually transmitted infections, or STI's are infections that can be transferred between individuals through sexual contact. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are over 15 million cases of sexually transmitted disease cases reported annually in the United States. There are over 20 different diseases that are sexually transmitted, among the most common are the Human Papillomavirus, and Genital Herpes. The collegiet community is at high risk of contracting these viruses, and because we are a part of the Sonoma State community we would like to spread awareness.
Photo of a new model of the Human Papillomavirus

The Human Papillomavirus

Human Papillomavirus is the name of a group of viruses that includes more than one hundred different strains or types. More than thirty of these viruses are sexually transmitted, and they can infect the genital area of men and women including the skin of the penis, vulva, or anus and the linings of the vagina, cervix or rectum. It is estimated that eighty percent of all women and fifty percent of men will get one or more types of genital HPV at some point in their lives. Approximately twenty million Americans are currently infected with HPV and 6.2 million people will become newly infected each year.

Human Papillomavirus is transmitted by skin-to-skin contact and infection occurs when a type of HPV virus enters your body through a break in the skin. Once inside, the virus infects skin cells called keratinocytes and reproduces itself. There are about one hundred types of HPV and approximately thirty are spread through genital contact. Of those thirty different types they are separated into “low risk” and “high risk” strains.

Genital Warts
There are around twelve different strains of “low risk” types of HPV. These twelve types of HPV are classified as “low risk” because they cannot cause cervical cancer. They can, however cause genital warts or very minor cell changes on the cervix. These low risk types of HPV are known by the numbers: 6, 11, 40, 42, 43, 44, 53, 54, 61, 72, 73 and 81. Strains 6 and 11 cause approximately 90 percent of all genital warts.
Symptoms- Genital warts are usually small bumps or groups of bumps in the genital area. They can be raised or flat, single, or multiple, small or large and sometimes cauliflower shaped. They can appear on the vulva, in or around the vagina or anus, on the cervix, and on the penis, scrotum, groin, or thigh. Although only about 1% (1 million) of Americans have visible signs of genital warts and aren't life threatening they are life altering.
Treatments- Although there are several different techniques to try to eliminate genital warts there is no guarantee that signs of infection won't reappear. The most popular techniques for treatment are the Podopfilox gel and Laser treatments which uses an intense beam of light which burns off the warts.

Cervical Cancer
The fifteen other types of HPV are classified as “high risk” types because they can cause abnormal cells to form on the cervix. These abnormal cell changes may gradually develop into cervical cancer if they aren’t removed. The fifteen types of high risk HPV are known by the numbers: 16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 56, 58, 59 and 68. Strains 16 and 18 are the most dangerous, responsible for approximately 70 percent of all cervical cancers. Every year about 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 4,000 will die from this disease in the United States.
How HPV virus infects normal cells and turns into cancer

Symptoms- Cervical cancer symptoms often go unnoticed for several weeks and sometimes unnoticed altogether because they mimmic so many other symptoms of PMS or menstrual pains. Symptoms of cervical cancer include: Unusual heavy discharge, pelvic pain, pain during urination, and heavy and irregular bleeding.

Prevention- Gardasil is the only cervical cancer vaccine that helps protect against four types of HPV. Although it only protects against four of approximately thirty different strains of genital HPV they are accountable for 70% of cervical cancers and 90% of genital warts. Gardasil is a preventative measure and won't work once the virus is contracted.

Herpes Simplex Virus type 2
Hepes Simplex Virus

HSV-2 is extremely common in the United States, one in four persons over the age of 30 is estimated to be infected with HSV-2, but most remain unaware of their infection. HSV-1 is a similar virus which mostly causes oral cold sores or fever blisters, but is said to be the cause of 20% of genital herpes cases because it can be transmitted by oral to genital contact(Funke, 800). According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) 45 million Americans from ages 12 and up have experienced a genital HSV infection. Genital herpes is more common in women (1 out of 4 women) than in men (approximately 1 out of 8). The virus can be transmitted through sexual contact with someone infected with HSV even if they have no symptoms at the time of sexual contact.

Symptoms and Signs of Infectionn5551628.jpg

Symptoms of HSV-2 are usually more severe and occur more frequently than HSV-1. The first outbreak, which usually occurs two weeks after infection, for either virus is commonly more noticeable and painful than subsequent outbreaks and includes a cluster of lesions that cause a burning sensation. After the lesions appear the patient can expect vesicles to appear, which cause uncomfortable sensation while walking, and urinating (CDC). The vesicles contain infectious fluids and usually heal in a couple of weeks. Those who are infected can expect several outbreaks within the first year of transmission. In subsequent years outbreaks are likely to decrease in frequency. HSV eventually goes into lifelong latent state in the body's nerve cells. Approximately 90% of those infected with HSV-2 and 50% of those infected with HSV-1 experience recurrences (Funke, 800).

The herpes simplex virus can also cause potentially fatal infections in babies, especially if a women contracts the virus in the late stages of pregnancy because this increases the likelihood of transmition of the virus from the mother to the baby. If a mother is experiencing an outbreak during childbirth a cesarean delivery is required. Also, it is now thought that HSV may cause someone to become more susceptible to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and cause people already infected with HIV to become more infectious (CDC).

Treatments Options & Prevention

There is no cure for HSV-2 or 1. Antiviral drugs can be prescribed by doctors to help reduce the frequency and severity of outbreaks of those infected. The three most popular antiviral treatments are: acyclovir (Zovirax), famciclovir (Famvir), and valacyclovir (Valtrex). There are also three types of antiviral therapies that your doctor may recommend, Initial treatment, Intermittent treatment, and Suppressive treatment. Initial treatment is meant to reduce the severity of the first outbreak. During intermittent treatment, a doctor will prescribe you antivirals to have just in case you have a flaring of symptoms. Suppressive treatment is meant for those who experience frequent outbreaks. Antivirals are taken every day to suppress the outbreaks and can do so by 70%-80% (WebMD).

There are only a few ways to prevent contracting HSV-2 or 1, the first is to completely obstain from sexual intercourse. Other precautions include limiting the amount of your sexual partners, ideally to one person who has been tested and known to not be infect with HSV. Also, wearing a condom during sex, but please note that this might not be a complete safeguard against infection because outbreaks can occur on the external genitalia of women, or at the base of the penis in men (Mayoclinic).

Get Tested!!!

STD Testing


1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dec. 2007. 11 May 2009 <>.
2. Tortora, Gerard J., Berdell R. Funke, and Christine L. Case. Microbiology An Introduction with CDROM. Boston: Benjamin-Cummings Company, 2006.
3. "Treatment Options for Managing Genital Herpes." WebMD - Better information. Better health. 2005. 11 May 2009 <>.
4. "Genital herpes: Prevention -" Mayo Clinic medical information and tools for healthy living - 27 May 2007. 11 May 2009 <>.

Works Cited

1.) "About HPV." Key Points about HPV. 2009. 11 May 2009 <>.
2.)"HPV Vaccine Information For Young Women." Sexually Transmitted Diseases. 2007. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 12 May 2009 <>.
3.)"Human Papillomavirus." Gardasil, Human Papillomavirus. 12 May 2009 <>.
4.)Man, Stephen. "Human cellular immune responses against HPV." Cervical Cancers. 3 July 1998. 12 May 2009 <>.
5.)Tortora, Gerard J., Berdell R. Funke, and Christine L. Case. Microbiology: an introduction. 9th ed. New York, New York: Pearson Education Inc, 2007.