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Sexually Transmitted Diseases - STDs



Genital Warts

In February 2002 the British Medical Association (BMA) Science Department and Board of Science and Education published a document called 'Sexually Transmitted Infections'.

Genital warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) which is a virus that once contracted is a disease for life.  Following the description of where genital warts may be found, the report says they "may be small, difficult to see and may only be detected by medical examination".  The report then goes on to say "the warts may take months to appear".  This means that the disease can be passed on from person to person and not be detected until someone goes for a medical examination.  In that time how many partners will have been infected?  Is this another case for screening on a regular basis, and even if screening did take place the likelihood of detection is not guaranteed in the first few months.  Lack of symptoms does not mean a person is not contagious.

The report says that there are chemical treatments available for small warts, either healthcare worker or self applied, yet pregnant women cannot use these chemical treatments.  There is no explanation of why not, so it can only be assumed that the chemical would have an adverse effect on the unborn baby.  If that is the case, and the mother has genital warts, can the warts be passed on to the baby during birth?  Would the baby then suffer from genital warts for life?

The report states that HPV types 6 and 11 are the most common cause of external warts and are seen as a cosmetic nuisance, not predisposing the carrier to genital cancer, therefore only needing the 'normal' three or five year screening.  This, however, is a 'cosmetic nuisance' that once caught is a lifetime condition so carriers need to be aware that they would need to be checked out at least every three to five years for the rest of their lives.  This 'cosmetic nuisance', that is passed on via intercourse, will also be passed on to any partners who would also then have a 'cosmetic nuisance' for life that would need screening every three to five years.  Assuming someone age 16 contracts Genital Warts and assuming they go on to live until they are 76 that will be sixty years they will have suffered from a 'cosmetic nuisance' assuming the sexually transmitted disease doesn't get any worse.

However, the next paragraph in the report then says "Some sexually transmitted HPVs have been linked with cancer in both men and women, and are a major cause of cervical cancer.  These viruses include HPV-16, HPV-18, HPV-31 and HPV-45 and are known as 'cancer-associated types'."  Does this therefore mean that there are 45 types of HPV?  How many are cancer causing?  These types of HPV are nearly invisible and can only be detected by smear tests so there is a possibility that they could be missed if symptoms are not obvious.  What regular testing is automatically carried out on men?  How would anyone distinguish between the 'cosmetic nuisance' type and the cancer causing type?  Could the 'cosmetic nuisance' type develop into the cancer causing type?  Who is being told all this information, how and where?  What funding and studies are there available for detection and prevention measures?  What groups are carrying out these studies and how was it decided who would be funded?

With the current 'teaching' in schools that oral sex is to be encouraged as a way of trying to prevent youngsters from having 'full' sex, and as HPV can be found on or around the penis, anus, vulva and vagina and occasionally in the mouth, are there likely to be even more outbreaks of genital warts in the mouth by an even younger grouping?  If this is the case, then even just mouth to mouth kissing is soon going to be just as dangerous for anyone to undertake.


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