What Is HPV?


HPV is a group of viruses that infect the skin and mucosa, or moist tissue, of the body. The virus can be transmitted through sexual contact but does not always cause symptoms or health issues. In some cases, however, HPV can lead to cancerous changes in certain areas of the body. There are more than 100 types of HPV that exist today; most are considered low-risk types that go away on their own without causing any serious problems. A small number of high-risk types can cause cancer if they go untreated over time – especially cervical cancer in women and throat cancer in men who have sex with men (MSM).

What is HPV?

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the name of a group of viruses that affect the skin and mucous membranes. The virus is transmitted through sexual contact.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there are more than 40 types of HPV, with about 14 high-risk types that cause cancer in humans. It’s estimated that about 79 million Americans currently have HPV infections, according to the American Social Health Association (ASHA).

HPV is by far the most common sexually transmitted infection in the world: CDC data show that at least 50 percent of sexually active men and women will contract it at some point during their lifetime. Most people won’t be aware they’re infected because there are no symptoms until months later when genital warts appear on the vulva or penis; this happens within weeks to years after exposure to high-risk strains of the virus.[1]

What are the types of HPV?

There are over 100 types of HPV, but only 40 of them can infect the genital area. The other 60 types can only infect the mucous membranes of the mouth or throat. Some types of HPV cause warts (e.g., on your hands), while some cause cancer (e.g., in your cervix).

There are two main categories of HPV: low-risk and high-risk. Low-risk HPVs usually don’t cause serious health problems and can be transmitted through close skin contact with an infected person’s body parts without having sex with that person, such as touching their genitals or being kissed by them. High-risk forms are more likely to lead to cancer if they persist within the body for a long time without developing into precancerous lesions called dysplasia first

What are HPV symptoms?

HPV symptoms are often mild and may go unnoticed.

  • Genital warts: small, cauliflower-shaped bumps that can appear on the vulva, vagina, cervix, anus and scrotum.
  • Cervical cancer: abnormal changes in cervical cells that can lead to cancer if not treated early on.

How common is HPV and who gets it?

HPV is one of the most common viral infections in the world. According to the CDC, it affects about 79 million people in the United States alone. That’s nearly one out of every four people between ages 18 and 59! About 14 million new cases are diagnosed every year.

The good news is that HPV usually goes away on its own within 2 years and doesn’t cause any health problems if it does not become cancerous. In fact, most people who have been infected with HPV will never even know they had it because their immune system got rid of the virus before any symptoms appeared or showed up later but cleared up on its own within 1 to 3 months without treatment.

HPV can affect both men and women but some types are more likely than others for each gender:

How do people get HPV and how can I protect myself from getting it?

HPV is so common that most sexually active men and women will get at least one type of the virus at some point in their lives. Most of the time, the body can fight off HPV naturally within a few months. But when it doesn’t, certain types of HPV can cause health problems like genital warts or cancer.

When you’re first infected with HPV, your body will make antibodies to fight off the virus and prevent it from causing any symptoms or health problems. This is called natural immunity, because your immune system is able to keep the virus from spreading further in your body on its own without any treatment or medication. You’re considered naturally immune to that type of HPV for life after this happens—that’s why doctors say you have “active” immunity against that specific strain (in other words, you still have antibodies from when it passed through).

How do I know if I have HPV?

It’s you, not your partner. There is no test for HPV that can tell whether an individual person has the virus, but there are tests that can be done to determine if you have been infected with one or more types of the virus. These tests don’t need to be done in a doctor’s office; some clinics and pharmacies also offer them.

  • In the past, these tests were available only at doctors’ offices or hospitals. They now may also be done at clinics and pharmacies.

Does having HPV mean you have cancer?

The short answer is no. Having the virus doesn’t mean you have cancer, although it can lead to cancer in some cases.

HPV (human papillomavirus) is a viral infection that’s transmitted through intimate physical contact with another person and can cause genital warts and cell changes in healthy cells on the skin or in the cervix. While most types of HPV don’t lead to any health problems, some strains cause genital warts and others may eventually lead to cervical cancer if left untreated over time. In fact, HPV has been found as a cause of over 99% of cervical cancers worldwide, according to the CDC. However, there are other ways that HPV can spread from one person to another: It’s possible for people who don’t engage in sexual activity to contract the virus—like when children play together without washing their hands after using the bathroom!

Learn about HPV and how to protect yourself from it.

One of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HPV is a virus that can cause genital warts and cancer. About 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV, and 14 million more are newly infected each year.

There are more than 150 types of human papillomaviruses—HPV—and around 40 of these can infect your genital tract. Most women will get at least one type of HPV during their lifetime, while men who have sex with men are at higher risk for anal cancer due to the presence of certain strains.

The most common strains don’t cause visible changes in the skin or mucous membrane lining your mouth, vagina or rectum; instead they remain undetected until they become active and produce warts or other lesions.


HPV is a common infection that can be spread through sexual contact. By knowing the facts about HPV and taking steps to protect yourself, you can prevent this virus from spreading and keeping your body healthy.

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