Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the genital areas of males and females during vaginal, anal sex, oral sex and genital-to-genital contact. It can be passed on between straight and same-sex partners—even when the infected partner has no signs or symptoms.

There are more than 40 HPV types. The mouth and throat are mostly infected. Most people unaware of it even they have it.

Signs and Symptoms

Mostly the body’s immune system clears HPV naturally within two years.  But uncleared HPV can cause different symptoms and health problems:

Genital warts

A small bump or group of bumps appears in the genital area in small or large, raised or flat, or shaped like a cauliflower. Warts can appear within weeks or months after sexual contact with an infected partner. Genital warts might go away, remain unchanged, or increase in size or number if left untreated. They will not turn into cancer.

Recurrent Respiratory Papillomatosis( RRP)

Rarely warts grow in the throat, block the airway, and cause a hoarse voice or troubled breathing.

Other HPV-related cancers

These are less common but serious cancers and not visible until they are advanced and hard to treat which include cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and oropharynx (back of throat including base of tongue and tonsils).

Tests

Certain Pap test findings of HPV tests can be used for women at certain ages for cervical cancer. There is no general / approved test for men or women to check one’s overall “HPV status”.

Preventions & Recommendations

  • Genital warts:  Protecting by vaccine (Gardasil)
  • Cervical Cancer:  Preventing women by Cervarix and Gardasil vaccines, routine cervical cancer screening and follow-up of abnormal results.
  • Anal Cancers:  Protecting female and male by Gardasil vaccine. Screening is not routinely recommended since it needs more information.
  • Penile Cancers: No approved screening test to find early signs.
  • Oropharyngeal Cancers: No approved screening test to find early signs
  • RRP: Cesarean delivery is not recommended for women with genital warts to prevent juvenile-onset RRP (JORRP) in their babies. Because it is not sure that prevents JORRP in infants and children.

Certain types of HPV may manifest as Genital Warts, also known as condylomata accuminata. The virus causes cells in the skin to rapidly divide and pile up on each other. The resulting bumps are identified as warts. They tend to be flesh-colored or white.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus that infects skin. It is spread by direct skin-to-skin contact. HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the world. Unless you are in a lifelong mutually monogamous relationship, you will likely be exposed to HPV over your lifetime.

In women, the warts tend to be found on the skin of the external genitals and in the anal region. They may also be found in the vagina and on the cervix. In men, the warts occur most often on the head or shaft of the penis, or in the anal region.

Many people who become infected with HPV will not show any symptoms. These people are considered to have a subclinical infection. Most people who become infected with HPV will clear the infection on their own.

If you have genital warts, it is because you were exposed at some point in time to one of the types of HPV that causes warts. Direct skin-to-skin contact, generally during vaginal or anal intercourse is required for transmission. You cannot get genital warts from toilet seats, towels, etc.

Although the average time between infection and development of visible warts is three months, some people may have a subclinical infection for months to years before developing visible warts.

The main reasons for treating genital warts are cosmetic or for relief of symptoms. Treating the warts does not eliminate the virus from your body. Treatment does not prevent recurrences of the warts, nor does it decrease the infectiousness of the HPV. Your body’s own immune system will clear the virus from your system. This may take several years.

There is a HPV vaccine that protects you from four different types of HPV. Two of these types may cause genital warts, and the other two types may cause pre-cancerous or cancerous changes of the cervix.