DEAR DR. DONOHUE I have recently been diagnosed with human papillomavirus. I am 32 years of age and single. This news has shattered my dreams of having a family of my own. Can I someday have kids? Am I going to get cancer? I am scared and turning to you for help. – W.W.

ANSWER:
You are able to have kids. Genital warts have nothing to do with fertility. You are not going to have cancer. Did you know that more than 24 million of your fellow citizens, male and female, have the virus that causes genital warts, and this year (as in every year) close to 1 million more will catch them? Two-thirds of those who have sexual contact with a partner who has genital warts will come down with their own case of genital warts about three months after contact.

Papillomaviruses, of which there are close to 100 different strains, cause all warts – hand, foot and genital warts. Only a few strains are the cause of genital warts. And of those strains, fewer are associated with cervical cancer in women. The infection in women, therefore, has a more serious significance. Infected women should have regular Pap smears so that warts can be detected and removed promptly.

There are numerous ways of treating these warts. Doctor treatments include freezing them with liquid nitrogen, zapping them with a laser or drying them with an electric probe. Doctors can also apply bichloro- or trichloroacetic acid to remove them.

Self-treatment of these warts includes applying Aldara cream or podofilox gel.

When warts are present, there should not be any sexual activity. At all other times, infected males or the male partners of infected women should use a condom to prevent spread.

On the bright side, the warts might go away on their own.

The entire genital wart story (along with the herpes story) is told in the pamphlet with that name. Readers can order a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue – No. 1202, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.50 U.S./$6.50 Can. with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I have been told I have calcification of the abdominal aorta. My gynecologist wants me to have a CT scan. My internist does not feel that this is necessary. I am concerned about this and don’t know what to do. I am 78 years old. – J.O.

ANSWER:
By age 78, at least one in every 10 people has an X-ray that shows calcification of the aorta. The aorta is the largest body artery, and it runs from the heart down to the lowest point of the abdomen, giving off branches throughout its long course. The abdominal aorta is the section of aorta that most frequently shows calcification.

Such calcifications are often signs that arteries elsewhere also have calcification. That’s the chief significance of such a finding. “Elsewhere” includes heart and brain arteries. Heart artery calcification is the backdrop for a heart attack; brain artery calcification, for a stroke. This news ought not to unsettle you. All you must do is adopt the lifestyle suggested to everyone of your age: a low-cholesterol, low-fat diet; weight loss if that applies; eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains; maintaining normal blood pressure; and adhering to an exercise program that has your doctor’s approval.

The gynecologist wanted a CT scan to detect an abdominal aortic aneurysm, a bulge of the aorta. If those bulges are large, they can burst, with catastrophic results. If the internist, after reviewing the X-rays with the radiologist, is certain that no bulge is present, then a CT scan is not necessary.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I wrote you four times regarding the advantages of eating aloe gel, chopped garlic and a little olive oil, but you have never answered. I eat this mixture every night, as I was told it was healthy. Is it? – J.F.

ANSWER:
I didn’t answer because I don’t know the answer and can’t find one. If you want an unfounded, purely personal answer, I doubt the healthfulness of such a mixture.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.


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