Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). It can lead to genital warts or certain cancers. More than 200 types of HPV exist, 40 of which can infect your genital area, including the cervix, vagina, vulva, and anus, as well as the male genitalia. These strains spread through sexual contact, while the other types of HPV do not. Genital HPV infections are so common that the average sexually active person will contract one at some point during their life.
Types of HPV
Many HPV infections are harmless and will disappear on their own. Most infected individuals experience no symptoms, although some types can cause genital warts and/or lead to cancers such as cervical, throat, mouth, anal, and penile cancer. HPV types 6 and 11 cause genital warts. Higher-risk types such as HPV 16 and 18 cause up to 80% of cancer cases.
Vaccination and Testing
HPV doesn’t have a cure, although a vaccine is available that can prevent you from contracting certain types. This vaccination is available to people between the ages of 9 and 45. Depending on your age when you get vaccinated, you will receive either two or three shots in a series. If you do contract HPV that causes genital warts, your healthcare provider can remove them. Getting regular Pap smears and HPV testing can allow you to receive treatment before the infection progresses. Nurx™ offers HPV test kits so you can find out if you have HPV from the privacy of your own home.