The human papillomavirus (HPV) may be acquired by oral, vaginal, and anal sex. In some cases, even close skin to skin contact can lead to transmission of the virus. While there is no cure for HPV, it is possible to treat genital warts and precancerous cervical lesions that are caused by certain strains of HPV. Also, an HPV infection can be prevented through the use of vaccines.
Most people with HPV do not have any major symptoms. In some, the virus can also spontaneously disappear. If it lingers, certain strains can lead to the development of genital warts and cancers of the anus, back of the throat, cervix, or penis.
Once diagnosed, patients with HPV can effectively manage the infection. In order to determine the best possible treatment plan, your health care provider can obtain swabs from the cervix and send them for testing. The laboratory will analyze the swabs to test for specific strains of HPV.
If your health care provider discovers that you have a strain of HPV that can lead to cancer, they may suggest you get more frequent Pap tests and physical exams. If you have developed genital warts, you may either leave them alone if they do not cause any symptoms or have them treated with a variety of medications, including laser therapy.
Overall, the most effective way to prevent HPV is by getting vaccinated.