Human Papillomaviruses (HPV) are a group of more than 100 types of viruses transmitted primarily through sexual intercourse.
- HPVs are the most common sexually transmitted infection worldwide.
- Most people who have an HPV infection have no symptoms and do not know they are infected. Some people get visible genital warts, which are growths or bumps that appear in the genital area. For most men and women who become infected with HPV, it does not cause any problems and often goes away on its own.
- HPV is the major cause of cervical cancer. Worldwide, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women. Each year, according to the American Cancer Society, about 13,000 women in the United State learn that they have cervical cancer and about 4,100 women will die of the disease.
- Cervical cancer is a fully preventable disease if pre-cancerous cell changes are detected and treated early. High-risk, cancer-causing types of HPV are detectable. In a small number of women, HPV can cause cervical cancer. HPV infections are transient and most young women resolve their infection with no ill effects. If HPV infection is persistent past the age of 30, there is a greater risk of developing cervical cancer.
- Women who have never had a Pap test or who have not had one for several years have a higher-than-average risk of developing cervical cancer.
- HPVs may play a role in cancers of the anus, vulva, vagina, penis, and some cancers of the oropharynx (the middle part of the throat that includes the soft palate, the base of the tongue, and the tonsils.)
- There is no treatment for the HPV virus. However, there are ways to treat the symptoms associated with HPV, such as genital warts. Visible genital warts can be treated with self-applied medications or by treatments performed by a health care provider.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two vaccines to prevent HPV infections: Gardasil® and Cervarix®. Both vaccines are highly effective in preventing persistent infections with HPV types 16 and 18, two high-risk HPVs that cause most (70 percent) cervical cancers. Gardasil has been recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immune Practices (ACIP) for routine vaccination among females ages 11-12 years. The recommendations also allow for the vaccination of girls beginning at 9 years of age and the vaccination of girls and women ages 13 to 26.
You can get more information about HPV at the following websites.