What is HPV?
HPV is short for human papillomavirus. It’s a sexually transmitted viral infection that attacks the skin and mucous membranes of the body. Over 100 strains have been identified. A few HPV strains cause highly contagious genital warts.

According to the current CDC human papillomavirus fact sheet, approximately 70 million people are currently infected with HPV. At least 50% of sexually active men and women acquire a genital HPV infection at some point in their lives.

How does one get HPV?
  • The HPV virus is spread by direct physical contact. The penis, scrotum, vulva, labia, anus, or tissues of the vagina or cervix and throat are all possible locations of infection.
  • Most people who have a genital HPV infection do not know they are infected. If the HPV strain causes warts, they may be undetectable because of size or location, or the infection may be present without warts.
  • Warts may be tiny, gray, pink, or red swellings in your genital area that grow quickly and may take on a cauliflower shape. They may cause itching or burning in your genital area as well as discomfort, pain, or bleeding with intercourse.

What can be the consequences of HPV?
Cervical cancer has been closely linked with HPV infection. Certain types of HPV also are associated with cancer of the vulva, cancer of the anus, and cancer of the penis.

What treatment, if any, is available for HPV?
Most women are diagnosed with HPV based on the results of an abnormal Pap smear. If you are sexually active, HAVE A PAP TEST performed annually. There is no known "cure" for HPV, but an outbreak of warts can be controlled with medications or surgical treatments. The underlying virus is never completely eliminated, however, and genital warts may reappear even after treatment.

For more information about HPV visit: CDC  Mayo Clinic

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