Introduction: Perspectives on Human Papillomavirus Infection

  • Stephen Tyring, MD, PhD
    Stephen Tyring, MD, PhD, Departments of Dermatology, Microbiology and Immunology, and Internal Medicine, Route J-19, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas 77555.
    Departments of Dermatology, Microbiology and Immunology, and Internal Medicine, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TexasUSA
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      Advances in virology and epidemiologic research |have increased recognition of the clinical importance of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. Most HPV infections are subclinical and asymptomatic; when clinical manifestations do occur, they usually take the form of benign skin lesions, which are very common. HPV also has a nefarious side, however. HPV-associated genital warts can cause significant discomfort, psychological distress, and, in some cases, loss of sexual function. HPV infection that takes the visible form of anogenital warts is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the United States. Of even greater concern are the rare cases of malignant transformation of HPV-associated lesions. The link between HPV and neoplasia has been most thoroughly studied in women with cervical cancer, but HPV can cause other malignancies in the anogenital region, as well as in disparate parts of the body. The high prevalence of HPV infections and their potential for malignancy combine to make HPV a pathogen worthy of serious clinical concern.
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