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Genital warts in children: what do they mean?


Human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are a diverse family of viruses, of which 30–40 genotypes specifically infect the genital tract. Genital HPVs are largely transmitted sexually, with most infections being asymptomatic and transient. In contrast, persistent infection with oncogenic genotypes in a minority is a strong risk factor, for subsequent development of high grade dysplasia, the precursor lesion to cervical neoplasia, which generally occurs after a long latency period. It is unknown whether there is a disease correlate in children chronically infected with oncogenic HPVs. Low risk HPV genotypes 6 and 11 are the primary cause of condylomata acuminata, although in children non-genital genotypes are also found in a proportion, with the mode of transmission being either perinatal, horizontal, or sexual. The finding of asymptomatic HPV DNA in children, and correlation with live virus, infectivity, or disease is unclear. Long term follow up for children with anogenital warts is recommended, although there are no longitudinal studies available to clarify whether they are at risk of developing carcinoma in young adulthood.

  • EGW, external genital wart
  • HPV, human papillomavirus
  • human papillomaviruses
  • genital warts
  • sexual abuse

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