Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Infection

What is Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Infection?

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a group of viruses that can cause warts, cervical cancer, and other forms of cancer. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection and is estimated to affect approximately 80 million Americans, of any age, who are sexually active. HPV is spread through skin to skin contact during sex activities, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex.

Symptoms of HPV Infection

Most people infected with HPV have no symptoms and may not even be aware they are infected. HPV can develop into genital warts, but not everyone will have warts. These warts can range in size, shape, and color, and can be found on the penis, anus, and vagina. In some cases, HPV can lead to cervical cancer if it is not detected and treated in time.

Treating HPV Infection

There is no single treatment for HPV infection, but there are ways to manage the symptoms and reduce the risk of developing other associated conditions. Treatments for HPV include:

  • Warts can be treated with topical medications, freezing, laser therapy, or surgery.
  • Cervical cancer can be treated with radiation, chemotherapy, or surgery.
  • HPV vaccines may be helpful in preventing infection.

Preventing HPV Infection

The best way to prevent HPV infection is to practice safer sex, such as using a condom every time you have sex, and abstaining from sex if either partner is infected. Vaccination against HPV is also recommended for individuals aged 9-26.