Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Facts and Statistics: What You Need to Know

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a very common infection often spread through sexual activity. Though there are more than 200 strains, about 40 of them can cause genital warts or cancer in humans. This article will highlight key facts and statistics you should know about HPV.

Woman laying down ready to get a pap exam to test for HPV.

jenjen42 / Getty Images

HPV Overview

HPV is an infection that can spread through skin-to-skin contact, often during sex. Some HPV infections have no symptoms and may go away on their own in about two years; others may result in symptoms and become long-term infections.

There are two types of HPV infection. Low-risk HPV can cause genital warts. High-risk HPV infections can result in pre-cancerous cellular changes (called dysplasia) that lead to certain types of cancer, such as cancer of the anus, cervix, vagina, vulva, throat, and penis.

How Common Is HPV?

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the United States. The most recent data states that the HPV infection prevalence (how many new or existing infections there are at a given time) in the United States is 42 million.

It is currently estimated that about 80% of women and 90% of men will have an HPV infection at some point in their lives. However, since the introduction of the HPV vaccine, rates of HPV infection have declined.

HPV by Race and Ethnicity

Prevalence rates of HPV infections vary by race and ethnicity in the United States. The lowest rates of HPV infections are among the non-Hispanic Asian populations, and the highest rates are among non-Hispanic Black people.

HPV Infection Prevalence Rates by Race and Ethnicity in the United States Among People Ages 18–59
Race/Ethnicity Any Oral HPV High-Risk Oral HPV Any Genital HPV High-Risk Genital HPV
All Hispanic  7.0%  3.4% 41.4%  21.7%
Non-Hispanic Black  9.7%  4.3% 64.1% 33.7% 
Non-Hispanic White  7.3%  4.2% 40%  21.6%
Non-Hispanic Asian 2.9% 1.7% 23.8% 11.9%

HPV by Age and Sex

There are differences in HPV infection rates among people of different sexes. Males have higher rates of HPV in general, though there are differences between sexes depending on their age group. The number of sexual partners over a lifetime was the biggest factor influencing higher rates in males.

HPV Prevalence Rates by Sex in the United States Among People Ages 18–59
Type of HPV Infection  Men  Women
Genital HPV  45.2%  39.9%
High-Risk Genital HPV  25.1% 20.4% 
Oral HPV 11.5% 3.3%
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

HPV prevalence rates also vary by age among people who have had sex before. For example, in terms of both age and sex, the highest rate of genital HPV for women/females was in their early 20s. For males/men, the highest rates were found in their late 20s.

Genital HPV Prevalence by Age and Sex in the United States Among People Ages 14–59
 Age Male, Any HPV  Male, High-Risk HPV Female, Any HPV Female, High-Risk HPV
 14–19  22.5%  45.5%  15.5%  29.4%
 20–24  41.8%  62.8%  28.2% 39.2% 
 25–29  51.9%  44.5% 33.0%   25.3%
 30–39  45.3%  38.9%  25.2%  19.2%
 40–49  47.0%  35.1%  22.6% 15.4% 
 50–59  50.2% 32.0%   26.9%  14.3%

Causes of HPV and Risk Factors

HPV is caused by a virus that spreads through skin-to-skin contact. This type of contact often occurs during vaginal, anal, and oral sex. That said, the virus can spread through genital rubbing or touching as well.

Because HPV is so common, most people who have sex are at risk for (and at some point will have) an HPV infection. Factors related to an increased risk of HPV infection include:

  • Having sex for the first time at an early age (before the age of 18)
  • Having multiple sexual partners
  • Having one sexual partner that has multiple sexual partners or has an HPV infection

What Are the Mortality Rates for HPV?

Many HPV infections will go away on their own without treatment. Those that persist may cause symptoms or cancer. Low-risk HPV infections (that can cause genital warts) are not fatal. Mortality rates are reported on high-risk HPV-related cancers that can be fatal. However, if diagnosed early, many can be treated.

Estimated Deaths and Five-Year Survival Rates of Cancers Commonly Caused by HPV
 Cancer Type % of Total Cancers Caused by HPV Deaths Estimated (2022) Five-Year Survival Rate 
Cervical Cancer Nearly All  4,280  66.7%
Mouth/Throat Cancer 70%  11,230  68%
Anal Cancer 90%  1,670  70.1%
Vulvar Cancer 70%  1,560  70.3%
The National Cancer Institute

Both vaginal and penile cancers are often caused by HPV (75% and 60% respectively), though both are rare.

Understanding Survival Rates

A survival rate is a way to estimate how an average person who is diagnosed with a particular disease or condition, such as cancer, will survive in a given amount of time. Often, survival rates are provided in increments of one year, two years, or five years.

Screening and Early Detection

For someone who has a cervix, screening for and diagnosing an HPV infection may take place during a regular gynecological exam. A healthcare provider will use a speculum to spread the walls of the vagina open and perform a visual exam to look for any genital warts, including inside of the vagina and on the cervix.

An HPV test may detect high-risk HPV infections. During the test, a healthcare provider will collect a sample of cells from your cervix using a brush or swab. This may occur at the same time you have a Pap test. It is recommended that people with a cervix between the ages of 26 and 65 years old test for HPV at least every five years.

Though people with a penis can be diagnosed with genital warts with a visual exam, there are no recommended routine HPV tests for this population. However, some healthcare providers may give an HPV test to those who are at a higher risk for anal cancer.

Early detection of an HPV infection can help inform effective treatments. Pre-cancerous cells and cancers caused by HPV are more treatable if detected at early stages. HPV vaccines can significantly reduce the risk of genital warts and certain cancers caused by the virus.


HPV is the most common STI in the United States. Many people who have HPV have no symptoms, and many of those infections will go away without treatment within two years. There are two types of HPV infections that may persist: low-risk and high-risk. Low-risk infections may cause genital warts. High-risk infections are caused by the HPV strains that may lead to certain types of anal, vaginal, cervical, penile, and oral cancers.

The prevalence rates of HPV infections vary by race, ethnicity, age, and sex. Low-risk HPV infections are not fatal. High-risk HPV infections that cause pre-cancerous cellular changes can lead to cancer and be fatal if not treated early. HPV tests are routine for people with vaginas, but not people with penises. For anyone diagnosed with an HPV infection, treatment is most effective with an early diagnosis.

15 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Katie Wilkinson, MPH, MCHES
Katie Wilkinson is a public health professional with more than 10 years of experience supporting the health and well-being of people in the university setting. Her health literacy efforts have spanned many mediums in her professional career: from brochures and handouts to blogs, social media, and web content.