Peter Weiss, MD, is a board-certified OB/GYN and expert in women's health.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a group of more than 200 viruses that cause warts. Roughly 40 of these variants are transmitted sexually and cause warts on or around your genitals, anus, mouth, or throat.
A very common sexually transmitted infection (STI), HPV often resolves without treatment. Some high-risk strains are linked to cancer, however. Topical medications are sometimes effective in treating genital warts. If that fails, your doctor may recommend removing the warts, which can be done by burning, freezing, or surgical removal.
Correct usage of latex condoms can reduce the risk of HPV, but may not prevent all infections. The HPV vaccine offers protection against cancer-causing strains of HPV. It is administered in two or three separate doses, ideally given before a person becomes sexually active.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a very common sexually transmitted disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV, with about 14 million new infections each year. In fact, the CDC estimates that almost every person who is sexually active will contract HPV in their lifetime if not vaccinated.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) spread through intimate contact with infected people. You can get HPV from having vaginal, anal, or oral sex and the virus can be passed even when no symptoms are present. HPV can lay dormant for years without any signs or symptoms.
In most cases, human papillomavirus (HPV) infections clear up without any treatment within 18 to 24 months. There is no treatment for the virus itself, but its chief symptom of genital warts can be treated with topical medications or removed by freezing, burning, or surgically excising the skin growth.
Oral human papillomavirus (HPV) can likely be spread by deep kissing an infected partner. A 2014 study of heterosexual couples found people with a partner who has oral HPV has an increased risk of also contracting an oral infection.
There is no cure for human papillomavirus infection, but most people clear the infection on their own within two years. The symptoms of HPV can be treated, but there is currently no treatment for the virus itself.
Yes and no. The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a collection of viruses that can cause warts on any part of your body. Some strains of HPV are spread through sexual contact with an infected person and can result in genital warts, which is a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Sexually transmitted HPV can also affect the mouth, throat, and anus.
Yes, the human papillomavirus (HPV) is contagious and can be spread through intimate contact with an infected person. Symptoms do not need to be present for a person to be contagious. In fact, most people with HPV are asymptomatic and it can take two years for the virus to clear your system.
Currently, there is not a specific test that determines a person’s HPV status. In women, the human papillomavirus (HPV) can be detected in cervical cell samples collected during a Pap smear. A similar test is used to detect anal HPV. There is no diagnostic test available for oral or throat forms of HPV.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 120 million doses of HPV vaccine have been administered and the data shows the vaccine is both safe and effective in preventing HPV-related cancers and there is no evidence to suggest it causes fertility problems. While some deaths and serious side effects have been reported, the CDC’s investigation determined they were not caused by the vaccine.
Certain high-risk strains of human papillomavirus (HPV) have been linked to cancers of the cervix, anus, mouth, throat, penis, vulva, and vagina. In fact, nearly all cervical cancers are caused by HPV. However, most of the time HPV resolves on its own and most people who contract HPV do not go on to develop cancer.
HPV vaccines protect against high-risk variants of human papillomavirus (HPV) that are linked to cervical, anal, oropharyngeal, and genital cancers. Since most sexually active people will contract HPV during their lifetime, vaccination is recommended for all. The HPV vaccine is approved for people ages 9 to 45 and ideally should be given prior to any sexual contact. In young teens through age 14, it is administered in two doses six to 12 months apart. People over the age of 14 need three doses given within a six month timeframe.
Cervical cancer is a slow progressing cancer of the cervix that is typically caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection. Women who are sexually active should be routinely screened for HPV during their annual well-woman checkup. HPV can be detected by analyzing cervical cells collected during a Pap smear. HPV can be prevented with a vaccine.
High-risk HPV refers to human papillomavirus (HPV) strains that may cause cancer. Also known as oncogenic HPV, infection with these strains are spread through sexual contact and can increase a person’s risk for cancer. High-risk HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer.
Low-risk HPV refers to strains of human papillomavirus (HPV) that do not cause cancer. Low-risk HPV commonly causes warts and is referred to as non-oncogenic HPV. Low-risk HPV infections may clear up on their own. Warts can be treated with topical medications or removed by a dermatologist by either freezing, burning, or surgically excising the wart.
Oropharyngeal cancer is a type of head and neck cancer where cancerous cells grow on the soft palate, tonsils, or tissue in the back of the throat and tongue. Most oropharyngeal cancers are associated with human papillomavirus (HPV), tobacco, and alcohol. Oropharyngeal cancers are diagnosed through imaging tests and a biopsy of tissues from the affected area to check for cancerous cells.
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections spread through intimate contact. Also known as sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or venereal disease (VD), STDs can be caused by bacteria, parasites, and viruses. Common STDs include chlamydia, genital herpes, gonorrhea, HIV/AIDS, HPV, syphilis, and trichomoniasis. Correct usage of latex condoms reduces the risk of contracting an STD, but does not prevent all STDs.
A viral infection is an infection caused by a virus. Viruses are microscopic organisms that are transmitted from person to person. Some viruses, like the common cold, influenza, and COVID-19, can cause upper respiratory infection, while enteroviruses commonly cause vomiting and diarrhea. Human papillomavirus, which is spread through skin-to-skin contact, causes warts.
Warts are growths on the skin caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infections. Different HPV strains produce warts on different places of the body. Common warts often appear on fingers, plantar warts grow on the sole of the feet, genital warts are a sexually transmitted disease, and flat warts appear in places that are frequently shaved. Warts are also known as verruca.
U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. HPV. Updated October 2, 2020.
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American Cancer Society. HPV and cancer. Updated July 30, 2020.
American Cancer Society. About oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancer.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Basic information about HPV and cancer. Updated September 3, 2020.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HPV vaccination is safe and effective. Updated April 29, 2019.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Genital HPV infection – fact sheet. Updated August 20, 2019.
Dahlstrom KR, Burchell AN, Ramanakumar AV, et al. Sexual transmission of oral human papillomavirus infection among men. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2014;23(12):2959–64. doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-14-0386
U.S. Food & Drug Administration. HPV (human papillomavirus). Updated May 29, 2019.
U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. Sexually transmitted diseases. Updated September 29, 2020.
U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. Viral infections. Updated October 19, 2020.
U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. Warts. Updated September 21, 2020.
U.S. National Library of Medicine. Human papillomavirus (HPV) test. Updated July 31, 2020.
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