Genital warts and human papillomavirus: An update

Genital warts are the visible manifestations of infection caused by human papillomavirus. They are commonly encountered in primary care health centers. The guidelines for treatment selection are limited. The main goal of treatment is clearance of visible warts and treatment reduces infectivity, but there is no evidence that treatment reduces the risk of cervical and genital cancer. Choice of therapy by the physician is based on the site, size, number and morphology of lesions, as well as patient preference for physician, treatment cost, convenience and adverse effect. Genital warts can cause significant emotional distress due to fear of social stigma and lesions can be of aesthetic concern. Genital warts can lead to cervical cancer which is ranked as the most frequent cancer of women in India. India has a population of approximately 365.71 million women above 15 years of age, who are at risk of developing cervical cancer. The current estimates indicate approximately 132,000 new cases diagnosed and 74,000 deaths annually in India, accounting to nearly 1/3 rd of the global cervical cancer deaths. Warts have been reported in 2-25% of sexually transmitted disease clinic attendees in India. Women with genital warts should have cervical smears examined as recommended by the national cervical screening program.

Author(s): Saroj Jain, AnupamaDiwanand Satish Sardana

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