Tanning Beds and Genital Warts (HPV)

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(Article by Gayla)

According to new studies, genital warts, a common sexually transmitted disease caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) can be contracted and transmitted through the use of tanning beds if and when proper precautions are not taken.

The warm moist environment associated with tanning bed usage often provides prime conditions in which the HPV virus can thrive for longer periods of time on inanimate objects; normally the virus thrives on skin alone. The virus can easily be transferred to the bed’s surface when a person infected with HPV sits naked or in minimal coverage type clothing, on the bed prior to proceeding to the laying position.

Nearly 30 million people are expected to visit a tanning salon this year, according to the February issue of Consumer Reports. During Spring Break and Prom season, the numbers are bound to increase in the visits a person makes to the tanning salons, therefore increasing their risk of contracting HPV.

In many cases, a person can be infected with the HPV virus and not present any lesions or noticeable symptoms, however, that does not mean the virus isn’t there or that it can’t be transmitted further.

Precautions can be taken to help reduce and often eliminate the risk of contracting HPV during your tanning experience. By simply using common sense and not relying on tanning salon operators to make sure the beds are cleansed properly; ask that you be permitted to clean your own bed before use. Be sure to ask what product they use for cleaning purposes and use a clean towel or disposable paper towels to clean the surface.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the world. Experts estimate that as many as 24 million Americans are infected with HPV, and it appears to be on the rise. More than 100 types of HPV have been identified. Some types of the virus cause common skin warts. About one-third of the HPV types are known to spread through sexual contact and live only in genital tissue. Low-risk types of HPV cause genital warts, the most recognizable sign of genital HPV infection. Other high-risk types of HPV cause cervical cancer and other genital cancers.

Like several other sexually transmitted infections, HPV usually causes an infection that does not have visible symptoms. One study sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) reported that almost half of the women infected with HPV had no obvious symptoms. Because of the persistent nature of this viral infection, individuals may not be aware of their infection or the potential risk of transmission to others and of developing complications.

A medical care provider can often diagnose genital warts by visual examination. Women with genital warts should also be examined for possible HPV infection of the cervix. The doctor may be able to identify some otherwise invisible changes in the tissue by applying vinegar (acetic acid) to areas of suspected infection. This solution causes infected areas to whiten, which makes them more visible, particularly if a procedure called colposcopy is performed. During colposcopy, a magnifying instrument is used to view the vagina and cervix. In some cases, it may be necessary to biopsy cervical tissue. This involves taking a small sample of tissue from the cervix and examining it microscopically.

A Pap smear test may indicate the possible presence of cervical HPV infection. A Pap smear is a microscopic examination of cells scraped from the uterine cervix in order to detect cervical cancer. Abnormal Pap test results are often associated with HPV infection. Women with abnormal Pap smears should be examined further to detect and treat cervical problems.

HPV Prevention The only way to prevent HPV infection is to avoid direct contact with the virus, which is transmitted by skin-to-skin contact. If warts are visible in the genital area, sexual contact should be avoided until the warts are treated. Using latex condoms during sexual intercourse may provide some protection but not always. Researchers are working to develop two types of HPV vaccines. One type would be used to prevent infection or disease (warts or pre-cancerous tissue changes); another type would be used to treat cervical cancers. Clinical trials are in progress for both types of vaccines. For many, maintaining a healthy looking tan heightens self esteem and it’s been said that tanning responsibly can encourage a natural release of endorphins and in turn help to lift the spirits of the person.

Before traipsing off to your local tanning salon call around and ask them what their sanitizing guidelines are and what approaches they take in preventing the spread of communicable disease through their business. One simple phone call could prevent a traumatic diagnosis later on down the road.

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