HIV & HPV: What Happens When 2 Bad Guys Crash The Party


doctors looking at patient's x-ray

doctors looking at patient’s x-ray

We started out a couple articles ago with the theme of HIV as a party virus.  By this we mean that HIV likes to hang out with all sorts of other disease causing viruses, bacteria and other organisms.

Because HIV is sexually-transmitted, we should not be surprised that HIV patients often have other sexually transmitted infections.  But sometimes, the relationships are even greater. This means that while we are managing HIV, we also have to be checking to see if any of its “friends” have come along for the “party” so we can deal with them appropriately. HIV’s friends can cause many problems, for example, we have discussed how Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C viruses can cause cirrhosis and liver cancer: bad news!

What is HPV?

One of HIV’s favorite party companions is the Human Papilloma Virus, often abbreviated HPV. There are lots of different strains of HPV and they are commonly found in both men and women.  Most strains of HPV don’t cause any serious problems, but a few strains do cause disease. A couple strains are known to be responsible for causing cervical cancer and also cancer of the anus. A couple of different strains cause genital warts.  Genital warts look like crusty clusters that can appear on the penis, the labia, vulva or anus.

Sometimes they can get quite large looking like miniature clusters of grapes, or even having a cauliflower-like appearance. Not surprisingly, this virus that causes problems in the anal/genital area is mainly sexually transmitted. It also may be the cause of other types of cancers in different parts of the body.