What is HPV?

HPV is short for the Human Papillomavirus. HPV is a virus that can often lead to cancer but preventable with a vaccine that is given as early as 9. HPV virus can be transmitted with intimate contact. It can often go away on its own but it can cause genital warts and can lead to several cancers.


There are over 200 types of HPV and 40 kinds can affect the genital areas.

Who Can Get HPV?

HPV is a very common virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that around 80 million people currently have HPV in the United States, and around 14 million people contract a new infection of HPV each year.

HPV is spread from skin-to-skin contact with someone who already has HPV. HPV is usually spread during sexual contact though common warts can be spread without sexual contact. HPV can also be contracted even if you’ve only had sexual encounters with one person. Infections are more likely in those who have had multiple sex partners.

What are the Symptoms of HPV?

The symptoms of HPV can vary. Those who have HPV usually do not show any symptoms or signs of infection. HPV can often present itself as genital warts and HPV can lead to several cancers.

It is important to have regular checkups and testing. Testing can help find if HPV is present and if there are any abnormal cell changes. Cancers can be prevented early if your doctor is able to catch early warning signs.

A Pap Test (Pap Smear) can also help find if there are abnormal cell on your cervix that could be caused by HPV. A pap smear does not test for HPV but can help your doctor monitor and treat any abnormalities.

There aren’t any tests available to test HPV in the vulva, penis, throat, or anus areas.

Will I Get Cancer if I Get HPV?

Contracting HPV does not mean that it will develop into cancer but can lead to genital warts.

There are 2 types of HPV that can cause genital warts: HPV type 6 and 11. These types are low-risk HPV and do not lead to cancer.

HPV can infect the mouth and throat and cause oropharyngeal cancer. HPV is thought to cause 70% of oropharyngeal cancers in the United States.

HPV types 16 and 18 lead to the majority of cancer cases and are considered high-risk HPV.

The Treatment and Prevention of HPV


There are no treatments available of the HPV virus itself. There are treatments that can be provided for the health problems that HPV can cause.

  • Genital warts can be treated through a prescription medication
  • Cervical precancer can be detected by Pap tests and treated if identified early
  • There are other medications and procedures that can be recommended. It is best to consult with your doctor as to which medication/treatment is best suited for you.


HPV can be prevented!

HPV vaccination is the best way to prevent infection from 9 types of HPV. (6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58)


Currently, the CDC recommends everyone ages 11-26 to be vaccinated. Vaccination can begin as early as 9 years of age.

  • For those who are 27 years of age and older, it is recommended to consult with your physician prior to vaccination.


Limiting the number of sex partners you have can help reduce your overall exposure to HPV.

  • Condoms can help provide some protection against HPV infection and their use is encouraged. HPV can still spread if it is present on skin that is not covered by the condom.

If you think you have the HPV virus, schedule an appointment with your doctor.

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