Tag Archives: Cervical Health Awareness Month

Do You Know Enough About HPV?

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most prevalent sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the world. So much so, that the vast majority of sexually active men and women will contract it at some point during their lives. Most times the virus does not cause lasting health problems, but certain strains of the virus can cause genital warts or cancer so it is important to know the facts and get regular check-ups and pap smears to detect any abnormal developments.

HPV Fast Facts

  • More than half of all sexually active people will contract some form of HPV at some point, but many won’t even know it.
  • The CDC estimates over 79 million sexually active Americans are infected with HPV, with approximately 14 million new infections annually.
  • There are over 100 strains of HPV, most of which are relatively harmless and will pass through the system without causing any noticeable symptoms.
  • The longer certain high-risk strains of HPV stay in a person’s body, the more likely their chances of developing such types of cancer as anal, oropharynx, penis or cervical.
  • If you get regular pap smears, your tests will usually reveal abnormal HPV cells before they turn cancerous, so it is vital to get yearly pep smears if you are a sexually active woman. This is especially important since abnormal cells or cervical cancer likely won’t produce any warning signs.
  • If you spontaneously develop warts in your genital area, HPV (or herpes) is likely responsible.
  • Genital warts associated with HPV can be pink or reddish or skin colored and can be flat, raised or clustered together. They can develop on the thigh, groin, penis, cervix, vagina or anus.
  • HPV-related genital warts don’t necessarily make their presence known right away. They may show up weeks, months or even years after initial exposure, making the time and source from which you contracted HPV difficult to identify.
  • You may even have HPV if you’ve only been sexually active with one person (who has had previous sexual partners).
  • HPV can be spread through vaginal, anal or oral sex with an infected person and can be passed from a person who has no visible signs or symptoms of an infection.
  • Approximately 70% of HPV-related cancer cases are caused by strain 16 and strain 18.
  • About 95% of anal cancer are caused by HPV (strain 16)
  • Strains 6 and 11 are responsible for over 90% of cases of HPV-related genital warts.
  • There are approximately 26,900 cases of cancer are caused by HPV annually.

What Can Be Done To Prevent HPV?

Because HPV is so widespread, it is difficult to protect yourself completely against contracting it, however there are measures you can take to minimize your chances of developing high-risk types of HPV. Some of which include:

  • Get vaccinated – The CDC recommends 11-12 year-olds get two HPV vaccines to protect against high-risk HPV in the future. Young men and women who haven’t been vaccinated should do so as well. Check out the CDC recommendations of who should and should not be vaccinated.
  • People who are sexually active should use a condom (properly) each time they have vaginal or anal sex, as well as using condoms or dental dams for oral sex.
  • You can decrease your chances of contracting it significantly by having mutually monogamous sex (neither you or your partner have other sexual partners besides each other).


That concludes our look at the need-to-know facts about HPV. Thanks for visiting DocChat!