Human papillomavirus: pathogenesis and barriers to prevention
Patel, Sneh Bhupendrakumar
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Cervical cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the world, and human papillomavirus (HPV) is a cause of the vast majority of these patient cases. With many HPV types being oncogenic in nature, HPV as a whole is responsible for over 5% of all cancers worldwide and 15% of cancer in women in developing countries. HPV is a sexually transmitted infection that is spread through contact with infected genital skin, mucosa, or bodily fluids from a partner with acute or subclinical viral infection. While less frequent, various strains of the virus are also responsible for anal and vaginal warts, anal cancer, and cancer of the vulva and penis – these account for approximately 50,000 cases per year worldwide. Data also suggest a potential implication of HPV in oropharyngeal cancers, especially among younger adults. Various behavioral and prophylactic approaches are recommended for the prevention of HPV infection and cancer. For example, there is evidence that behavioral change can be effective, such as condom use and limitation on the number of sexual partners. Besides this, in recent years we have seen the development of various prophylactic or therapeutic vaccines that are highly effective in the prevention of HPV pathogenesis. Despite this, barriers to treatment and prevention exist, making HPV a continuing threat to individuals most at-risk across the globe. Thus, this study reviewed a large collection of current HPV and related cancer literature to understand the process of infection and pathogenesis in various human sites as well as potential barriers to prevention and treatment that may be perpetuating the survival of the virus across the world. Analyzing current and past research on such barriers, this paper delves into important variables that can affect early detection and treatment of HPV, and also explores a novel and promising therapy currently in development that could be valuable in overcoming many of these issues.