What is HPV and how is it spread?

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a group of viruses that is the most common sexually transmitted infection. HPV is transmitted through vaginal, anal and oral sex and through skin-to-skin contact. The infection can occur when the virus enters your body, usually through a cut, abrasion or a tear in your skin.

There are more than a 100 types of HPV of which some are cancer causing types such as cervical cancer. Some types of HPV can cause genital warts which are very infectious.

Risk factors

  • The more sexual partners you have, the higher your risk to contract a HPV infection.
  • Your Age.Common warts mostly occur in children and genital warts in adults.
  • People who have weakened immune systems are at greater risk of HPV infections.
  • Open Skin wounds.
  • Touching surfaces that have been exposed to HPV can increase your risk of HPV infection.

How do I know if I have HPV?

Most people with HPV do not know they are infected and never develop symptoms or health problems from it. HPV normally clear up on its own.

People normally only find out they have HPV when they get genital warts or have abnormal cancer screening results.

Prevention and treatment for HPV

  1. Genital warts can be treated with prescription medication.
  2. Regular pap smear tests for woman can identify and treat problems before cancer develops.
  3. Safe sex education
  4. Warnings about tobacco use as it is a risk factor for cancers
  5. The HPV vaccine can protect you against diseases and cancers caused by HPV.
  6. If you are sexually active use condoms, although skin not covered by a condom can be infected
  7. Limit your sexual partners.

HPV vaccines

The HPV vaccine does not treat or cure an HPV infection in women or men who are already infected by one of these HPV types.

  • It is recommended for children of 11 and 12 years before they become sexually active and are exposed to HPV
  • People who have a compromised immune system (including HIV)
  • The vaccine can reduce a woman’s risk of cervical cancer.
  • The vaccine may prevent genital warts
  • May prevent penile and anal cancer
  • May prevent the spread of HPV to sexual partners. .

Please speak to one of our qualified nurses should you be interested in vaccinating against HPV-contact your nearest clinic


Mayo clinic