Human papillomavirus infection (HPV) is an infection that causes warts. There are more than 100 varieties of HPV. Different types of HPV infection can cause warts on different parts of your body. Only some types of genital HPV can cause cancer. Vaccines can help protect against the strains of genital HPV most likely to cause cervical cancer. Symptoms vary depending on the variety of HPV, but may include genital warts, common warts, plantar warts, flat warts, and cervical cancer. Some types of HPV infections occur when the virus enters your body through a cut or small tear in the outer layer of your skin. It is primarily transferred by skin-to skin contact.
Genital HPV infections are contracted through vaginal, anal, oral sex and other skin-to-skin contact in the genital region. Risk factors of HPV infection include weakened immune system, damaged skin, and personal contact. Serious complications of HPV infection are oral and upper respiratory lesions and cervical, genital, anus, mouth and upper respiratory tract cancer. Depending on the variety of HPV infection, your doctor may be able to diagnose with a visual inspection of any warts or lesions. If genital warts aren’t visible, a vinegar (acetic acid) solution test, Pap test, and DNA test may be used to diagnose HPV.
It is important to try to prevent HPV types that causes genital warts. You may be able to reduce your risk of developing genital warts by using a latex condom; this will prevent some but not all HPV transmission. The HPV vaccines are also important to prevent HPV infections that are most likely to cause cervical cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends routine HPV vaccination for girls and boys ages 11 and 12. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with an HPV infection, talk to your doctor about the most current prevention and treatment options.