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Papillomavirus (HPV)

Papillomavirus is a DNA virus with an icosahedral1 non-enveloped capsid2. Its circular DNA is around 7,000 base pairs in size and the virion3 is small, around 55 nanometers in size. There are many varieties of papillomavirus. The most important medically is the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is usually transmitted sexually. In most cases, the infection will go away on its own within 2 years. However, in some people the infection may persist and lead to cervical cancer.


Viruses and cervical cancer

HPV is the most common urogenital viral infection and most sexually active people become infected at least once in their lifetime. Cervical cancer is strongly linked to the type of HPV virus. Thus, it is mainly types 6 and 11 that are associated with cancer.

According to the WHO, cervical cancer accounts for 7.5% of all causes of cancer death in women. Prevention is based on one hand on vaccination, but also on screening for infection by PCR4 by a cervical smear and also by the cytological5 detection of precancerous lesions (analysis of cervical cells by microscopy). The HPV virus is specific for epithelial cells. Note that these are two oncogenic6 proteins, called E6 and E7, which are particularly linked to the development of inflammatory and precancerous lesions in the cervix.