Many people who have HPV don’t even know it, because the virus often has no signs or symptoms. That means you can get the virus or pass it on to your partner without knowing it. Human papillomavirus (HPV) affects both females and males. HPV transmission can happen with any kind of genital contact with someone who has HPV—intercourse isn’t necessary.
The public needs more education about HPV. One study by the National Institutes of Health found only 40% of women ages 18-75 had ever heard of HPV. In the United States, an estimated 75% to 80% of males and females will be infected with HPV in their lifetime. For most, the virus will clear on its own, but when it doesn’t, HPV can have consequences.
Infection with the human papillomavirus, or HPV, is an absolute requirement for cervical cancer to develop. This virus is transmitted sexually, but the majority of the most worrisome types of infection can be prevented with a newly available vaccine. Preventing HPV infection dramatically reduces a woman’s risk of cervical cancer. In addition, cervical cancer usually develops slowly after persistent infection with HPV and will first appear as a precancerous condition called dysplasia. If detected at this stage, it can be effectively treated to prevent cervical cancer from developing. Screening with Pap smears and tests for HPV detect these pre-cancerous conditions so patients are treated early.
What is HPV?
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is sexually transmitted virus. There are currently over one hundred known strains of HPV. About thirty of these strains affect both male and female genitalia, causing conditions like genital warts and more seriously, cancer.
Although HPV is responsible for both genital warts and cervical cancer in women, they are caused by different strains of the virus. So, if you have genital warts, you are not at risk of developing cervical cancer because of them. If you have a type of HPV that make you at high risk for cervical cancer, then genital warts will not appear because of it.
The HPV Cervical Cancer Connection
HPV is the primary cause of cervical cancer. Virtually everyone will contract HPV in their lifetime, with many never knowing they were a carrier of the virus. For some, the virus causes no adverse health effects, but for others, it leads to genital warts, dysplasia, and cancer.
Cervical Cancer & HPV Diseases
Cervical cancer is the first cancer in women to be identified as being caused almost exclusively by a virus. According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 12,000 women learned they have cervical cancer this year and about 4,000 of these women will die of one of the most preventable types of cancers in history. Other HPV-related cancers might not have signs or symptoms until they are advanced and hard to treat. These include cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and oropharynx (back of throat including base of tongue and tonsils).
Get The Facts About HPV
Human papillomavirus or HPV is a virus you may not know too much about—but you should. HPV will affect an estimated 75% to 80% of males and females in their lifetime. For most, HPV clears on its own. But, for others who don’t clear certain types, HPV could cause significant consequences: cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers in females. Other types could cause genital warts in both males and females. And there’s no way to predict who will or won’t clear the virus.
Getting the facts about HPV and the diseases it causes is the first step toward helping to protect against it.
HPV — WHO GETS IT?
Human papillomavirus (HPV) affects both females and males. HPV transmission can happen with any kind of genital contact with someone who has HPV—intercourse isn’t necessary. Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus–more than half of sexually active men and women are infected with HPV at some time. Six million new infections occur yearly in the United States. About 20 million people—men and women—are thought to have an active HPV infection at any given time.
How Do You Get HPV?
HPV is spread through sexual skin-to-skin contact. This means that penetration is not required to contract the virus. Vaginal and anal intercourse is also methods of HPV transmission. You can contract HPV from having oral sex, however it is less common.
What are the Symptoms of HPV?
There are rarely symptoms of an HPV infection. Genital warts are a symptom of the type of HPV that causes genital warts, however a person can be infected for years before the warts appear. A person can be infected and never have genital warts appear.
Women who are infected with a strain of HPV that is linked to cervical cancer do not usually experience any symptoms. Because there are no symptoms, a regular Pap smear is essential for detecting any abnormal cervical changes caused by HPV.
How to Prevent HPV?
HPV is a very common virus. It is estimated that over twenty million Americans are infected with HPV, making it the most common sexually transmitted disease. The only guaranteed means of preventing HPV is through absolute abstinence from all sexual contact; however this is unrealistic for most adults.
HPV is difficult to prevent because no penetration is needed to transmit the virus. Studies show that condoms do provide some protection against HPV, but because parts of the genitalia remain exposed during condom use, there is still a risk of transmission.
The HPV vaccine is also a method of preventing HPV. The FDA approved vaccine, Gardasil, has been proven effective against four strains of HPV known to cause cervical cancer and genital warts in women. Research is being done to determine the effectiveness of the vaccine in men.
Getting vaccinated against HPV, limiting the amount of sexual partners you have in your lifetime, and using a condom each time you have sex are all excellent ways to reduce your risk of contracting HPV.
• Precancers and cancers: cervical, vaginal and vulvar
• Genital warts
• Genital wartsAnd there is no way to predict who will or won’t clear the virus. There are about 6 million new cases of genital HPV* in the United States each year. It’s estimated that 74% of them occur in 15- to 24-year-olds.