Sexual Abuse And Warts In Children

The Effects Of Sexual Abuse In Children

The incidence of child sexual abuse worldwide causes the mind to reel. It is a problem affecting many Americans, with more than 88,000 children confirmed by child protection agencies to be victims of sexual abuse. While the number is reduced significantly from its peak in 1992 (142,000), it is unclear whether the reduction is due to unreported cases or a true decrease.

The long-term problems for victims of sexual abuse include depression, anxiety, sleep problems, PTSD, dissociation, eating disorders and substance abuse. Children also suffer with poor self-esteem and feelings of isolation and in later life sexual dysfunction, substance abuse and victimizing others.

Diagnosing Abuse Through STDs

Typically, a diagnosis of sexual abuse is made based on the child's history, including evidence discovered during a physical examination or the presence of an STD. However, studies have indicated that only a very small number of girls who have given a history of sexual abuse actually had the physical evidence to prove it. Sexually transmitted diseases, such as gonorrhea or syphilis, are considered evidence of sexual abuse or sexual contact. A genital culture that returns positive for Chlamydia or herpes is also indicative of probable sexual abuse.

Is It Abuse?

However, when it comes to genital warts, a dilemma arises. In order to make a connection between the appearance of genital warts in children and sexual abuse, it is necessary to have an understanding of incubation and transmission of genital warts. Human papillomaviruses are very diverse and of them, 30-40 specifically infect the genital tract. While HPVs are most commonly passed through sexual contact, they can also be passed during birth, to a newborn from his/her mother, as well as from hand to genitalia as is possible from an infected parent to a child. There is also the occasion of HPV in connection with other diseases, such as cervical cancer. However, the strains that cause genital warts are not implicated in cancer nor are they associated with health issues separate from genital warts.

Other Dangers For Children Exposed To HPV

A child who becomes infected with the HPV virus may have warts on the genitalia, or in the throat, a condition known as laryngeal papillomatosis. Even though laryngeal papillomatosis is rare, the condition may necessitate removal of the warts by laser surgery to avoid breathing obstruction. It is thought that in children younger than three years of age, genital warts are transmitted by nonsexual methods since the symptoms can be dormant for up to three years after the child's birth.

If there are signs of vaginal warts on a child, a physical examination and proper treatment should be given as soon as possible. If the birth mother has HPV, the child is more susceptible than a child is whose mother does not have the virus.