Genital human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States. At least 50% of sexually active people will have genital HPV at some time in their lives. HPV vaccines are available for males and females to prevent the types of HPV that most commonly cause health problems.
Get the Facts
Most people with HPV do not develop symptoms or health problems. But sometimes, certain types of HPV can cause genital warts. Other HPV types can cause cervical cancer and other less common cancers, like anal and penile cancers.
HPV is so common that most sexually active people get it at some point in their lives. Most don’t know they have it because HPV usually has no signs or symptoms and goes away on its own without causing any serious health problems.
Vaccines and Testing
There is no reason to be tested just to find out if you have genital HPV. However, it is very important for women to get screened for cervical cancer that is caused by genital HPV. The Pap test is the best way to screen for cervical cancer. There are also HPV vaccines that can protect males and females against some of the most common types of HPV.
HPV is passed on through genital contact (such as vaginal and anal sex). You can pass HPV to others without knowing it. The surest way to prevent HPV is not to have sex. Also, the fewer sex partners you have, the less likely you will be to get HPV. Condoms may also lower chances of getting HPV, genital warts, or cervical cancer if used the right way every time you have sex.
There is no cure for HPV, but there are treatments for the health problems that some types of HPV can cause, like genital warts and cervical cancer. In most cases, the body naturally fights off the virus on its own.