How is HPV spread?
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the United States, with an estimated 14 million new cases reported every year. It's likely that you will get some type of HPV in your lifetime.
Like other STIs, HPV is spread through skin-to-skin sexual contact during oral, anal and vaginal sex. Many people with HPV don't have any symptoms or may not know they've been exposed, but they can still transmit the infection. It can also take months or years for HPV to appear on an STI test or to show symptoms. This makes it difficult to know who exposed you or who you've transmitted it to.
How is HPV treated?
There isn't currently a treatment for the virus itself. There are treatments for the conditions that HPV causes, like cervical cancer or genital warts. Many people, though, never develop symptoms or even know that they've been infected with HPV. They also never develop additional illnesses as a result of HPV. It's possible, and even common, for people with healthy immune systems to cure themselves of HPV before they even know they have it.
How can you avoid contracting HPV?
Like so many other STIs, the only way to completely avoid contracting HPV is to avoid sexual contact. While it's not passed through the exchange of fluids like other STIs, it is passed through skin contact. You can reduce your risk of contracting HPV by using condoms correctly every time you have sex. If you use condoms incorrectly, or not at all, you greatly increase your risk of exposure to HPV.
Another way you can prevent HPV is by getting vaccinated. The vaccine is recommended for people between the ages of 11 and 26, though it can be given to children as young as 9. The most important thing about the vaccine is for it to be given before sexual activity and possible exposure to HPV. People who are sexually active or over the age of 26 may get the vaccine if their doctor recommends it, but it will be less effective, as the likelihood of exposure is higher. The vaccine may protect individuals from strains they haven't yet been exposed to, so it is still effective to a point.
How to be responsible about sex and HPV
It's possible to have sex even if you have HPV or you're concerned about getting it. Like with other STIs, there are things that you can do to protect yourself and your partners from contracting it:
The HPV vaccine was fairly controversial when it first came to market in 2006, but it's proven extremely effective. In the 10 years since the vaccine was introduced, infections for the strain that causes cervical cancer have dropped 86% in women between 14 and 19 years old, and 71% in women in their 20s. It's recommended that men and women be vaccinated. Even though men can't get cervical cancer, being vaccinated can prevent transmission to their future partners.
Get tested regularly.
Everyone who's sexually active should be tested for all STIs regularly. Even people in sexually exclusive relationships should consider being tested periodically, as some STIs, like HPV, can lie dormant and not show themselves in a test for months or even years. Knowing your STI status is important regardless of your exclusivity with your partner.
Talk to your partners
Communicating with your partner(s) is just as important as being tested regularly. They have a right to know what your STI status is, just like you have a right to know what theirs is.
Learn to use condoms correctly, every time.
Everyone thinks that they know how to use condoms correctly, but oftentimes, they don't. Use the correct type of condom, learn how to put it on, and remove it carefully. If you wish to prevent STIs, use condoms every time with every partner.
HPV sounds really scary, but it is possible to limit your risk of contracting it, just like with most STIs. If you're responsible about your sexual health, get vaccinated and communicate with your partners. That way, you're significantly less likely to contract HPV and suffer from other health problems it can cause.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
American Cancer Society: "HPV and Cancer."
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Genital HPV Infection – Fact Sheet."
National Cervical Cancer Coalition: "HPV and Relationships".
National Foundation for Infectious Diseases: "Facts About HPV for Adults."
Top Can You Still Be Sexually Active With HPV Related Articles
Can a Woman Give a Man HPV?Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a type of virus that is different from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and herpes virus (HSV). It is the most common cause of sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the United States. Yes, human papillomavirus (HPV) can be transmitted from a woman to man and vice versa.
Can You Get HPV If You Are Not Sexually Active?The human papillomavirus is transferred from person to person by skin-to-skin intimate contact with someone who has the infection. Transmission of HPV without sex, though uncommon, does happen.
Can You Get Rid of HPV Once You Have It?Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a type of virus that is different from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and herpes virus (HSV). It is the most common cause of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the United States. In most cases, human papillomavirus (HPV) infections can go away on their own.
HPV TestThe Cervista HPV test (human papillomavirus infection test in women) is a screening test used with other tests such as Pap smear and colposcopy for screening the two HPV types most likely to cause cancer, and to identify all "high-risk" HPV types. Cervista HPV test is not recommended for routine screening or for women under the age of 30.
Gardasil HPV VaccineGardasil is the first vaccine available on the market to prevent cervical cancer, genital warts, and precancerous genital lesions due to HPV. The CDC recommends the HPV vaccine for girls 11 and 12 years of age. Girls as young as nine may begin the vaccine. The vaccine is also recommended for females between the ages of 13 through 26 who have not been previously vaccinated.
Genital Warts in Men (HPV)The HPV virus (genital warts) in men can cause health problems. Genital warts are confined primarily to the moist skin of the genitals or around the anus. Genital warts are caused by the human papillomaviruses (HPVs), which are transmitted through sexual contact.
Genital Warts (HPV) Infection in Women
Genital warts is a sexually transmitted infection (STI, STD) caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). It is the most common STD in the US. The warts can appear anywhere on the skin where sexual contact has occurred.
The warts look like raised, flesh-colored lumps or bumps that have a cauliflower-like appearance. Signs and symptoms of genital warts in women include vaginal, vulva, or groin pain, itching, and burning where the wart(s) is.
Treatment can remove warts or lesions, but it does not prevent spread of the virus, and the warts usually grow back. Removing genital warts does not prevent the infection from spreading elsewhere on the body.
There is no cure for genital warts, and there is no vaccine to prevent them; however, there is a vaccine to prevent infection from four common types of HPV. Gardasil vaccine available for female adolescents and teens to prevent HPV infection and cervical cancer.
How Do You Know if You Have HPV in Your Throat?Although most people infected with HPV remain asymptomatic, it may cause serious side effects, such as the following.
How Does a Man Know if He Has HPV?What is HPV, and what does it look like in men? Learn how to recognize HPV, when to see your doctor for HPV, and how to prevent and treat HPV in men.
HPV in Men: Symptoms, Causes, Tests, TreatmentHuman papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted virus that infects half of the young adults aged 15-24 years each year in the United States. In general, genital (penis, scrotum) HPV infection has increased significantly over the past decades. HPV infection is caused when the HPV gets transmitted from an infected person to a healthy person through oral, vaginal, or anal sex.
HPV (Human Papillomavirus) InfectionHPVs or human papillomaviruses are a group of viral infections of the skin and mucous membranes. Certain high-risk types of HPV infection cause certain cancers (cervical, penile, anal, vaginal, and oral). There are no signs or symptoms of HPV infection. HPV infection is an extremely common STD and is highly contagious. People are at higher risk of getting HPV infection if they have multiple sex partners, a weakened immune system, or breaks in the skin. HPV vaccinations prevent HPV infection. Treatment for HPV infection is antiviral medication. There is no cure for HPV infection.
Sexual Health: Safe Sex Mistakes to AvoidEveryone makes mistakes. But when it comes to sex, they can be costly. WebMD explores common safe sex slip-ups.
What Causes HPV in Females?HPV — human papillomavirus — is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S., with over 75 million people being infected, most of them young adults. There are more than 150 strains of HPV.
What Causes Human Papillomavirus Infection (HPV)?Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common viral infection that is transmitted through sexual activity. People can get an HPV infection by having vaginal, anal or oral sex with someone infected with the virus. HPV infections often resolve without treatment and do not cause any health problems. A persistent HPV infection though may lead to warts, cancer of the mouth and throat, and cervical cancer.
What Does the HPV Vaccine Prevent?There are several vaccines that prevent infection with HPV. They also protect against other cancers that HPV causes including cancer of the vagina, vulva, penis, throat, and anus.