AHCC HPV and other treatments for persistent HPV – which is best for you?

AHCC HPV and other treatments

For most people who get infected with HPV or human papillomavirus (and that is most of us) our body’s own immune system will clear the virus in about two years. But for a minority, HPV is persistent, meaning it stays in the body for many years. 

In this article we look at some of the issues and questions that people ask about persistent HPV, including why it happens and the risks of a long-term HPV infection. We also look at two potential treatments: active hexose correlated compound (AHCC HPV ), which is an oral supplement; and Papilocare®, which is a non-hormonal vaginal gel.

How many people get HPV?

Most people (an estimated 80 per cent) will become infected with HPV within months to a few years after becoming sexually active. The majority will have no symptoms, and in most cases (90 per cent), HPV will be eliminated from the body within two years.

What is persistent HPV?

About one in ten women will not be able to get rid of HPV from their body. This is called a persistent HPV infection. We don’t yet know why some people are not able to clear the infection, but scientists are researching if there are any common risk factors, or if there is something different about the immune system of people with a persistent HPV infection.

What are the problems of persistent infection?

There are many types of HPV, but a few are high-risk types, that can cause cancers. Two of these, HPV16 and HPV18, cause most HPV-related cancers. Having a persistent infection with a high-risk type of HPV doesn’t cause cancer in itself. But it can increase the risk in combination with other risk factors, such as smoking, poor diet, or a weakened immune system.

Over time, high-risk types of HPV which remain in the body can cause cells in the cervix to change. You may hear these called abnormal cells, but it’s important to remember that these are not cancer cells, and most changed cells don’t develop into cervical cancer. 

With the right monitoring, and treatment, cells that have changed won’t develop into cancer. That’s why it’s important to go along for regular cervical screening, so any cell changes can be found early and treated if necessary.

What is AHCC HPV and can it help clear persistent HPV?

Active hexose correlated compound or AHCC is a substance that comes from shiitake mushrooms (Lentinus edodes). AHCC® was developed and is manufactured by a company called Amino Up, Ltd. in Japan, where it is a popular complementary and alternative medicine for immune support. It has been suggested as a nutritional supplement to help the immune system fight HPV infection. 

Is AHCC proven to work?

In June 2022 the results of a 12-month clinical trial were published in Frontiers in Oncology. The study recruited 50 women aged over 30 who had persistent high-risk HPV infections for two years or more. Half of the group (25 women) were given 3g of AHCC® daily for six months, followed by six months of taking a placebo (dummy pill, with no active ingredients). The other, ‘control’ group (25 women) took a placebo daily for 12 months. 41 women completed the study. 

The results were:

  • Negative HPV test in 64% of patients who received AHCC® as a supplement for six months.
  • This compared to a negative HPV test in 10% of the ‘control’ group, who received no treatment.
  • In the group of women who received treatment, nine of the 14 who tested negative after six months of taking AHCC® were still negative 12 months after stopping the supplement.

What is Papilocare® and can it help clear persistent HPV?

Papilocare® is a non-hormonal vaginal gel for the prevention and treatment of HPV-related cervical lesions (cells in the cervix that have changed, also known as abnormal cells). It is based on the natural ingredient Coriolus versicolor, also known as Turkey Tail, a mushroom traditionally used in Chinese medicine.

Papilocare® gel includes other natural ingredients to moisturise, regenerate tissue and restore the natural balance of healthy bacteria in the vagina. Papilocare® was developed and is manufactured by a company in Spain, Procare Health.

Is Papilocare® proven to work?

In April 2021 the Journal of Lower Genital Tract Disease published the results of the Paloma clinical trial studying how well Papilocare® prevents and treats HPV-related lesions. 

The study recruited 91 women who had tested positive for HPV and who had changes to the cells of their cervix. The women were randomly split into three groups. Two received treatment with Papilocare® (which varied slightly in duration between the two groups) and a third group had no treatment, but continued on the conventional ‘watchful waiting’ approach. 

The results were:

  • Papilocare® was shown to normalise low-grade cervical lesions (changed cells) in 88% of high-risk HPV-positive patients after six months of treatment.
  • This compared to normalised cervical lesions in 56% of patients in the ‘control’ group, who received no treatment.
  • Papilocare® cleared the virus in 63% of patients who followed the recommended treatment, compared to 40% of the control group.

How do I decide between AHCC HPV and Papilocare®?

It’s up to each individual to decide which treatment is best for them, in consultation with your doctor. 

While both performed similarly in clinical studies, one difference to consider is that Papilocare® is a topical treatment, meaning it is applied to and works directly on the cervical-vaginal area, where persistent HPV can sometimes lead to changed, or abnormal, cells. In contrast, AHCC® is a supplement that is taken orally (by mouth), which means it can have a general (systemic) effect on your body.

In addition to the research carried out by Procare Health, who manufacture Papilocare®, four independent studies have been conducted in public hospitals in Spain and Italy. These were not sponsored by Procare, the company that makes Papilocare®, and were entirely led by independent researchers. Like Procare’s own research, these studies also showed an average clearance of high-risk HPV in 63% of patients. 

Papilocare® has been registered with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the bodies that regulate the safety of medicines in the UK and Europe respectively. 







To find out more about persistent HPV visit jostrust.org.uk

Find out more about Papilocare®