HPV stands for Human Papillomavirus. It is a common sexually transmitted infection. Some types of HPV infection cause warts, and some can cause different types of cancer including cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis and anus, and some head and neck cancers.

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What Are The Symptoms?

Some types of HPV can cause genital warts, which appear as small growths on or around the genitals and anus. The warts may be:

  • flat or raised

  • single or multiple

  • clustered.

  • HPV that causes cancer, usually has no symptoms, but some people may notice:

  • bleeding after sex

  • pain during sex

  • abnormal period, vaginal bleeding or discharge

  • pain in the pelvis.

How does it spread?

  • any skin-to-skin contact of the genital area

  • vaginal, anal or oral sex

Who is at a high risk?

Risk factors for HPV infection include:

  • Number of sexual partners

  • The more sexual partners you have, the more likely you are to contract a genital HPV infection. Having sex with a partner who has had multiple sex partners also increases your risk.

  • Weakened immune systems

  • People who have weakened immune systems are at greater risk of HPV infections. Immune systems can be weakened by HIV/AIDS or by immune system-suppressing drugs used after organ transplants.

  • Damaged skin

  • Areas of skin that have been punctured or opened are more prone to develop common warts.

  • Personal contact

  • Touching someone's warts or not wearing protection before contacting surfaces that have been exposed to HPV — such as public showers or swimming pools — might increase your risk of HPV infection

What should I know About HPV?

  • How is the testing for human papillomavirus (HPV) done?

    HPV testing is part of cervical screening. There's no blood test for HPV. During cervical screening, a small sample of cells is taken from the cervix and tested for HPV. Screening is offered to all women aged 25 to 64.

  • How common is HPV and the health problems caused by HPV?

    HPV is so common that almost every person who is sexually-active will get HPV at some time in their life if they don’t get the HPV vaccine.

  • I’m pregnant. Will having HPV affect my pregnancy?

    If you are pregnant and have HPV, you can get genital warts or develop abnormal cell changes on your cervix. Abnormal cell changes can be found with routine cervical cancer screening. You should get routine cervical cancer screening even when you are pregnant (after consulting your doctor)

  • Can I be treated for HPV or health problems caused by HPV?

    There is no treatment for the virus itself. However, there are treatments for the health problems that HPV can cause: Genital warts can be treated by your healthcare provider or with prescription medication. If left untreated, genital warts may go away, stay the same, or grow in size or number. Cervical precancer can be treated. Women who get routine Pap tests and follow up as needed can identify problems before cancer develops. Prevention is always better than treatment. Other HPV-related cancers are also more treatable when diagnosed and treated early.

Myths Vs Facts

  • Myth: Only women can get HPV.

    Fact: HPV is common among both men and women.

  • Myth: You must have sexual intercourse to get HPV.

    Fact: While most cases are sexually transmitted, people who haven’t had intercourse can become infected.

  • Myth: There are treatments for HPV.

    Fact: There is no cure or treatment for the HPV virus.

  • Myth: The HPV vaccine causes teens and preteens to become sexually active.

    Fact: No research links the HPV vaccine to increases in sexual activity.

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