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.