What is HPV?
HPV, human papillomavirus, is the most common sexually transmitted infection – so common that nearly every sexually active man and woman will contract it at some point in their lives. There are many types of HPV and some can cause genital warts and cancers, but there are vaccines to easily prevent contraction of the virus.
There is no test to determine your “HPV status,” and there are no approved tests to find HPV in the throat or mouth.
There are, however, HPV tests that screen for cervical cancer and are recommended for screening women aged 30 years and older.
Many people do not know they have HPV and never have health problems or show symptoms. The appearance of genital warts or an abnormal Pap smear in women (during screening for cervical cancer) is usually the first indicator. Cancer due to HPV is another serious problem some may develop.
Is there treatment for the HPV virus?
While there are no treatments for HPV, there are ways to treat the health problems that occur from contracting HPV:
- Cervical precancer and HPV-related cancers – it is important for women to get regular Pap smears to identify problems before cancer progresses. Cervical precancer is treatable, but prevention is much easier. Visit www.cancer.org for more information on cervical precancer and other HPV-related cancers.
- Genital warts – Genital warts may stay the same, grow in number/size, or go away, but it is best for them to be treated by you and your physician.
Be sure to tell your partner so they can be tested and receive treatment.