Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus that is spread by skin-to-skin contact, including sexual intercourse, oral sex, anal sex, or any other contact involving the genital area (eg, hand to genital contact). Condoms do not provide complete protection from HPV infection because condoms do not cover all exposed genital skin. People do not become infected with HPV by touching an object, such as a toilet seat.

The risk of HPV exposure increases with the number of sexual partners you have and the number of partners your partner has. It has been estimated that 75 to 80 percent of sexually active adults will acquire HPV infection before the age of 50. A majority of women and men become infected with HPV for the first time between ages 15 and 25 years. Most people who are infected with HPV have no signs or symptoms, and will clear the infection within two years, often without treatment.

In 10 to 20 percent of women, however, the infection persists. In this situation, there is a greater chance of developing cervical pre-cancer and possibly cancer. However, it usually takes many years for HPV infection to cause cervical cancer. Thus, regular testing is important in detecting cervical abnormalities early, before cancer develops.

Over 100 different types of HPV have been identified; more than 40 of these are known to infect the cervix and approximately 15 are known to cause cervical cancer. Other types of HPV can cause genital warts (condyloma) of the vagina, vulva, or anus.

Dr. Sullum is a board certified Obstetrician Gynecologist who graduated from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in 2000. Since 2004, Dr. Sullum has routinely managed HPV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in his Upper East Side practice.

For new patients, Dr. Sullum will first do a full consultation including a complete history and then provide a thorough examination to evaluate for HPV and other STDs.

Genital warts are often treated with topical medicine in the office, and sometimes additional medicine for the patient to apply at home. Warts may also be biopsied or surgically removed.

Patients with abnormal pap smears caused by HPV are initially evaluated with a colposcopy, often with an office biopsy. Patients are then followed closely afterwards as abnormal pap smears may lead to cervical cancer.

Dr. Sullum also administers HPV vaccinations, which can help to prevent HPV 6,11,16, and 18.


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