- HPV Infection
is genital HPV infection?
HPV infection is a sexually transmitted disease (STD)
that is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). Human papillomavirus,
or HPV, is the name of a group of viruses that includes
more than 100 different strains or types. They can infect
the genital area, like the skin of the penis, vulva, labia,
or anus, or the tissues covering the vagina and cervix.
HPV affects both women and men.
of these viruses are considered "high-risk"
types and may cause abnormal Pap smears and cancer of
the cervix, anus, and penis. Others are "low-risk,"
and they may cause mild Pap smear abnormalities and genital
warts. Genital warts are single or multiple growths or
bumps that appear in the genital area, and sometimes form
a cauliflower-like shape.
Who gets genital HPV infection?
who is sexually active is at risk for genital HPV infection
but those at greater risk include:
diagnosed with any STD
with a sex partner diagnosed with any STD
with more than one sex partner
with a new sex partner
twenty million people are currently infected with HPV.
Fifty to 75% of sexually active men and women acquire
genital HPV infection at some point in their lives. About
5.5 million Americans get a new genital HPV infection
is genital HPV infection spread?
types of HPV that infect the genital area are spread primarily
through sexual contact. Most HPV infections have no signs
or symptoms; therefore, most infected persons are completely
unaware they are infected; yet they can transmit the virus
to a sex partner. Rarely, pregnant women can pass HPV
to their baby during vaginal delivery. A newborn that
is exposed to HPV during delivery can develop warts in
the larynx (voice box).
are the signs and symptoms of genital HPV infection?
people who have a genital HPV infection do not know they
are infected. The virus lives in the skin or mucus membranes
and usually causes no symptoms. Other people get visible
are genital warts?
usually appear as soft, moist, pink or red swellings.
They can be raised or flat, single or multiple, small
or large. Some cluster together forming a cauliflower-like
shape. They can appear on the vulva, in or around the
vagina or anus, on the cervix, and on the penis, scrotum,
groin, or thigh.
soon do symptoms appear?
can appear within several weeks after sexual contact with
an infected person, or they can take months to appear.
Some people experience no symptoms.
there a cure for genital HPV infection?
is no "cure" for HPV, although the infection
usually goes away on its own. The virus remains in the
body even if no symptoms are present. Cancer-related types
are more likely to persist.
is the treatment for HPV Infection?
there is no treatment to cure HPV, but there are several
treatments available to deal with genital warts. Visible
genital warts can be removed, but no treatment is better
than another, and no single treatment is ideal for all
cases. Some treatments are done in a clinic or a doctor's
office and others are prescription creams that can be
used at home.
is genital HPV infection diagnosed?
warts are diagnosed by inspection, but most women are
diagnosed with HPV on the basis of abnormal Pap smears.
Pap smears are the primary screening tool for cervical
cancer or pre-cancerous conditions, many of which are
cell changes related to HPV. Current HPV tests are fairly
sophisticated and expensive and are commercially available
for women with an abnormal Pap smear. They cannot identify
which HPV infections will lead to cervical cancer or pre-cancerous
conditions. Research is underway to determine the role
of HPV tests for cervical cancer screening.
is the connection between HPV infection and cervical cancer?
types of HPV can cause mild Pap smear abnormalities that
do not have serious consequences. Approximately 10 of
the genital HPV types can lead, in rare cases, to development
of cervical cancer. Research has shown that for most (90%)
women, cervical HPV infection becomes undetectable within
two years; only a small proportion have persistent infection.
Persistent infection with certain types of HPV is the
key risk factor for cervical cancer.
smear can detect pre-cancerous and cancerous cells on
the cervix. Frequent Pap smears and careful medical follow-up,
with treatment if necessary, can help ensure that pre-cancerous
cells in the cervix caused by HPV infection do not develop
into life-threatening cervical cancer.
can HPV infection be prevented?
is the most effective strategy to prevent HPV infection.
Two uninfected individuals who have no other sex partners
besides each other cannot get genital HPV infection.
The following practices for sexually active people will
help prevent infection:
not have sex with anyone who has genital sores or unusual
growths in the genital area or the anus.
aware that condoms can reduce, but do not eliminate, the
risk for transmission to uninfected partners.
If you are a sexually active woman, you should have a
regular Pap smear to screen for cervical cancer or other
CDC - Division of Sexually Transmitted Diseases Prevention
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