Being armed with the facts about genital warts will make conversations regarding the virus easier on patients and providers.
Genital warts (condyloma acuminatum) are the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the US with 2 in 5 individuals acquiring the infection in their lifetime.1 Because of the stigma associated with genital warts, patients often feel embarrassed when it comes to talking with their doctor about them. By assuring individuals that genital warts are a common medical issue, dermatology providers can ease the conversation for both parties.
In “Keys to Successful Education for Patients with Genital Warts with Emphasis on the Presenting Male Patient,” Nhung Ho, PA-C, and Steven Leon, MS, PA-C, offer facts and guidance to facilitate a broader conversation on the subject of Human papillomavirus (HPV) and destigmatize genital warts.2
In addition to concerns about treatment options and effectiveness, a diagnosis of genital warts can lead to concerns about infidelity in a relationship. For an individual presenting with the infection for the first time, addressing the etiology and transmission of genital warts is essential.2
Of the more than 100 types of HPV that can cause clinical manifestations of warts, 20 are classified as “oncogenic” or “high risk” because of their risk of causing cervical, throat, anal, and other anogenital cancers.3 Most cases of genital warts will clear within 2 years. Removal of the warts does not necessarily eliminate the possibility of transmission of the underlying infection.4
Three vaccines have been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for prevention of certain strains of HPV. All 3 recommend full vaccination before exposure to HPV for the vaccine to be effective.2
Individuals with a diagnosis of genital warts have many questions, including how they contracted the virus and how likely it is that their partner also has genital warts. Nhung and Leon cover a list of questions commonly asked by an individual after a diagnosis of the virus.
By being prepared with answers to frequently asked questions and reassuring patients with the facts regarding genital warts, providers can ease many concerns of individuals with this common virus.