There are many different types of HPV. Some types can cause health problems including genital warts and cancers. But there are vaccines that can stop these health problems from happening. How is HPV spread?
You can get HPV by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the virus. It is most commonly spread during vaginal or anal sex. HPV can be passed even when an infected person has no signs or symptoms. Anyone who is sexually active can get HPV, even if you have had sex with only one person. You also can develop symptoms years after you have sex with someone who is infected. This makes it hard to know when you first became infected.
Does HPV cause health problems? In most cases, HPV goes away on its own and does not cause any health problems. But when HPV does not go away, it can cause health problems like genital warts and cancer. Genital warts usually appear as a small bump or group of bumps in the genital area. They can be small or large, raised or flat, or shaped like a cauliflower. A healthcare provider can usually diagnose warts by looking at the genital area.
Does HPV cause cancer? HPV can cause cervical and other cancers including cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis, or anus. It can also cause cancer in the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils called oropharyngeal cancer.
Cancer often takes years, even decades, to develop after a person gets HPV. There is no way to know which people who have HPV will develop cancer or other health problems. They may also be more likely to develop health problems from HPV. How can I avoid HPV and the health problems it can cause?
You can do several things to lower your chances of getting HPV. The HPV vaccine is safe and effective. It can protect against diseases including cancers caused by HPV when given in the recommended age groups. For more information on the recommendations, please see: Routine screening for women aged 21 to 65 years old can prevent cervical cancer.
If you are sexually active Use latex condoms the right way every time you have sex. This can lower your chances of getting HPV. Who should get vaccinated? All boys and girls ages 11 or 12 years should get vaccinated. Catch-up vaccines are recommended for boys and men through age 21 and for girls and women through age 26, if they did not get vaccinated when they were younger. The vaccine is also recommended for gay and bisexual men or any man who has sex with a man through age There are HPV tests that can be used to screen for cervical cancer.
These tests are only recommended for screening in women aged 30 years and older. HPV tests are not recommended to screen men, adolescents, or women under the age of 30 years. Most people with HPV do not know they are infected and never develop symptoms or health problems from it.
Some people find out they have HPV when they get genital warts. Women may find out they have HPV when they get an abnormal Pap test result during cervical cancer screening. About 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV. About 14 million people become newly infected each year. Health problems related to HPV include genital warts and cervical cancer. Before HPV vaccines were introduced, roughly , to , women and men were affected by genital warts caused by HPV every year. Every year, nearly 12, women living in the U.
There are other conditions and cancers caused by HPV that occur in people living in the United States. Every year, approximately 19, women and 12, men are affected by cancers caused by HPV. This could be an underestimate of the actual number of people who get genital warts.
Will having HPV affect my pregnancy? If you are pregnant and have HPV, you can get genital warts or develop abnormal cell changes on your cervix. Abnormal cell changes can be found with routine cervical cancer screening. You should get routine cervical cancer screening even when you are pregnant. There is no treatment for the virus itself. However, there are treatments for the health problems that HPV can cause: Genital warts can be treated by your healthcare provider or with prescription medication.
If left untreated, genital warts may go away, stay the same, or grow in size or number. Cervical precancer can be treated. Women who get routine Pap tests and follow up as needed can identify problems before cancer develops. Prevention is always better than treatment. For more information visit www. Other HPV-related cancers are also more treatable when diagnosed and treated early. Where can I get more information?