Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a highly prevalent group of viruses that can affect humans. While most people do not experience any issues, certain types of HPV can lead to the development of genital warts or cancer.

Symptoms of HPV

HPV primarily affects the skin, and there are over 100 different types of the virus.
Symptoms of HPV are generally absent, with many individuals unaware of their infection and not encountering any complications. However, in some cases, painless growths or lumps may appear around the genital area, including the vagina, penis, or anus, known as genital warts.

How can HPV be transmitted?

HPV can be transmitted through various forms of contact, including skin-to-skin contact in the genital area, vaginal, anal, or oral sex, as well as sharing sex toys. It is important to note that HPV often does not exhibit any symptoms, making it possible to be unaware of the infection. HPV is highly common, and most individuals will acquire some form of the virus during their lifetime.
It is crucial to understand that sexual contact with numerous partners is not necessary to contract HPV. The virus can be acquired during the first instance of sexual activity.

What conditions are linked to HPV?

While the majority of HPV infections do not lead to complications, certain types can cause genital warts or abnormal changes in cells that may progress to cancer. HPV strains associated with an increased risk of cancer are referred to as high-risk types.
Cancers linked to high-risk HPV include cervical, anal, penile, vulval, vaginal, and certain types of head and neck cancer. It is possible to carry HPV for many years without experiencing any problems, even without recent sexual activity or new partners.

HPV testing

Testing for HPV is typically conducted as part of cervical screening, which involves taking a small sample of cells from the cervix for examination. There is no blood test available for HPV. Cervical screening is offered to women between the ages of 25 and 64 to help detect and prevent cervical cancer.

How can I protect myself from HPV?

While it is not possible to completely protect oneself from HPV, certain measures can help reduce the risk. Condoms can offer some protection against HPV, although they do not cover all the skin surrounding the genitals. Vaccination against HPV is available and can provide protection against the types of HPV responsible for most cases of genital warts and cervical cancer, as well as certain other cancers. However, it does not provide coverage against all HPV types.
There is no specific treatment for HPV infections. In the majority of cases, the body’s immune system clears the infection within two years. Treatment is necessary if HPV leads to issues such as genital warts or changes in cervical cells, which may require medical