A Few Facts About Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

HPV is the shortened name for human Papillomavirus which consists of more than 150 virus’ strains. A number is given to each HPV virus to identify its type and named after the papillomas or warts that are caused by some HPV types. There are some HPV types that can cause cervical cancer and other cancers. Infection of the genital areas of men and women are caused by more than 40 types of HPV. However, there are available vaccines that can protect against infection from the most common HPV types.

Close skin-to-skin contact can transmit HPV. Someone infected with the virus can infect you with HPV through oral, vaginal, and anal sex. It is through anal or vaginal sex that the infection gets commonly spread. The most common STI or sexually transmitted infection is HPV. It is so common that almost every sexually active individual has been infected with it even when they were unaware of the infection.

HPV can affect the moist membranes and skin of the body including

  • The anus
  • The lining of the throat and mouth
  • The vagina
  • The vulva
  • The cervix

Changes in the cells in the lining of the throat and mouth and of the cervix can be developed by some HPV types. These are classified as HPVs that causes high-risk health problems. The cell changes are called dysplasia which has a high-level risk of turning cancerous.

Verrucas and warts are caused by other HPV types. The HPV types 6 and 11 are oftentimes called the genital wart virus or the wart virus. The genital areas, particularly around the anus, and the feet and hands are the common spots for the growth of verrucas and warts. They can also be found on any area of the body. The verrucas and warts HPV types are referred to as low risk as they seldom develop changes in the cell which could cause cancer.

Skin contact with an infected person can transmit the HPV type that affects the skin. Sexual activity such as oral sex and open mouth kissing can be infected with the HPV type that affects the throat and mouth. During sex where close contact skin-to-skin happens is also the way to get a genital HPV infection. Multiple sex partners increase the risk for getting infected with HPV.

Genital HPV can infect a person for a long time without showing any signs or symptoms. A cervical screening showing you have the virus may make you think that your life long partner has been unfaithful and given you the infection. Acquiring HPV does not mean that your partner or you have been unfaithful. There is no way of finding out the exact time you’ve had the virus which you or your partner could have acquired in past relationships years ago.

Cervical screening done on a regular basis will be the best protection against HPV types that causes cancer. The screening will be able to detect abnormal cell changes before they turn cancerous. Cervical screening is more important for women who have low or weak immune systems that may be the result of medications for another health condition.

How To Avoid the Risk of Acquiring HPV?

HPV or human Papillomavirus is a very different virus from HIV and herpes or HSV, very common, which has affected almost all sexually active men and women one time in their lives without being aware of it. There are over 100 strains of HPV, with some varieties that can develop health problems including cancers and genital warts. Vaccines are available to prevent these health problems from developing.

A person infected with HPV can transmit the virus through oral, vaginal, and anal sex. The most common infection happens during anal or vaginal sexual contact. The absence of signs and symptoms in an infected individual can still pass on the infection.

Even if you only have sex with one person, as long as you are sexually active, you are prone to get infected with HPV. Symptoms can sometimes develop after several years from an infection which makes it difficult to know the exact time and occasion when you first got exposed.

Most of the time health problems are not caused by HPV as it disappears on its own. It is only when it does not leave the system would it create health problems such as cancer and genital warts.

The genital area could be affected by groups of bumps or a single bump of genital warts. They can be cauliflower-shaped, big or small or flat or raised. By looking at the genital area, a medical practitioner can mostly diagnose warts.

HPV can be the cause of other cancers aside from cervical cancer such as cancer of the anus, vulva, penis, and vagina. It can also develop other types of cancer such as oropharyngeal cancer which includes the tonsils and the base of the tongue.

After infection to HPV, it can take years for cancer to develop. The strains of HPV that causes cancer are different from the strains that cause genital warts.

There is no way of knowing what kind of individuals infected with HPV will acquire health problems or cancer. Weakened immune systems particularly people infected with HIV/AIDS may not be able to ward off HPV and be likely candidates for serious health conditions.

There are several ways to avoid or lower the risk of acquiring HPV.

Submit to a vaccination. HPV vaccines are effective and safe to use. They will be able to protect men and women from developing diseases and cancers that HPV can cause when the vaccination is given to the right age groups. The vaccination comes in three doses covering a period of six months and once started, should be finished to get lifetime protection.

Pap tests should be one of the routine tests for women 21 to 65 years of age as prevention for cervical cancer.

Latex condoms used the right way every time there is sexual activity could lower the risks of acquiring HPV infection. Some genital areas cannot be covered by a male condom and the better option would be the use of a female condom as it covers a larger area.

Engage in a monogamous relationship or have a sexual relationship with only one person where you are also the only sex partner.

What is Human Papillomavirus? – Symptoms, Prevention and Treatment

HPV means human Papillomavirus and it has more than 100 strains. HPV is more common but a different virus than Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV or herpes (HSV).

These are the three characteristics of HPV:

  1. Asymptomatic which means that it shows no signs and symptoms
  2. Pre-cancerous which causes abnormal Pap tests in women
  3. Causes warts in other parts of the body other than the genital area

HPV # 16 and #18 are the two types of HPV infection that lead to abnormal findings in Pap tests in women. If they are not treated, they become high risks for acquiring cervical cancer. These are the varieties of HPV that do not develop any warts in the body.

The two types of HPV infection that causes the bulk of genital warts are #11 and #6. Genital warts can grow outside or inside the genitals, they come and go, and even if you do not see them you will still get infected.

There are 150 varieties of HPV like plantar warts that can grow on your feet or common warts that can grow on your hands, and over 40 different strains of sexually transmitted HPV. Warts that appear and grow in the other parts of your body cannot be transmitted to your genital area. It has been noted that many sexually active people will never know that at one point in their life they were able to get infected with genital HPV.


Genital touching can transmit HPV. They include:

  • Sharing of sex toys
  • Genital to genital
  • Anus to mouth
  • Genital to hand
  • Anus to hand
  • Genital to mouth
  • Anus to genital


Exposure to HPV will not show symptoms for months or years or never at all, but the most common for warts to develop after infection would be between 4 weeks to 8 months. This is the reason why you will not be aware that you have it.

Raised bumps are the most common trait of warts, but some are hardly noticeable for their very small sizes. Some new wart growth will not make you experience soreness or burning although there will be some that will be a little bit itchy.


A pap smear would be the best way to find out if you have HPV strains that can cause cervical cancer. There are other tests to detect HPV, but these tests are not normally done. Doctors hardly ever perform biopsies on warts and rely more on ocular examination.


Condoms can be slightly effective, but not in areas such as the vulva or testicles which can pass on the infection. The most effective one to use is a female condom because of the large area that it can cover.

A vaccine is available for both sexes that are generally given to individuals ages 9-26. It will be more effective to use on people who are not sexually active yet.


The abnormality of cell changes and the location are the factors that can determine a medical treatment plan. Some of the most common treatments are abnormal cells burning, LEEP and freezing cells in the cervix.