Human papillomavirus (HPV)

Human papillomavirus (HPV) includes over 100 different strains of virus, some of which cause various warts like flat warts and plantar warts, as well as genital and anal warts, and some of which can cause cancer, including cervical cancer, anal cancer, some vulvar and vaginal cancer, some penile and scrotal cancers, and even some mouth and throat cancers.

These viruses are ubiquitous in human populations, with many people being exposed to the benign wart-associated HPVs sometime in life, and most sexually-active persons being exposed to some form of sexually-transmissible HPV.

With early detection, most HPV-associated cancers are readily treatable with relatively non-invasive treatments - the Pap smear test is routinely undertaken by women to check for cervical and other gynaecological cancers, and a similar Pap test is available for anal cancer. While the recently developed Gardasil and Cervarix vaccines provide protection against the two major cancer-causing types of HPV, types 16 and 18, there are a number of other cancer-associated HPV types which are not covered by the vaccines. Also, the vast population which reached adulthood prior to the vaccines being available have likely already been exposed to HPV, and thus are at risk for developing HPV-caused cancers later in life. This being so, while the vaccines may render HPV-associated cancers to much more rare diseases, study of the distribution and determinants of HPV and its associated cancers is needed.

This disease is being researched in the following projects:

Research Projects