Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention estimates that nearly 80 million Americans are currently infected with human papillomavirus (HPV)—the most common type of sexually transmitted infection. While most HPV infections clear on their own in one to two years, some cases last longer and may cause certain types of cancer. Some people elect to receive vaccines to help prevent HPV infection and related diseases. Currently, the CDC recommends HPV vaccination for girls and boys between the ages of 11 and 12. Children receive a two-dose vaccine that is administered six months apart, while women and men ages 15 to 26 are eligible for a three-dose vaccine.
Human papillomavirus is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, including sexual intercourse and oral sex. Rarely, a mother may pass HPV to her baby during childbirth.
Anyone can acquire HPV, but this infection is more likely to occur in people who have:
- Multiple sexual partners
- Unprotected sex
- A compromised immune system
Along with receiving HPV vaccination, practicing safe sex and using a condom can lower your risk of HPV.
Human papillomavirus usually doesn’t produce noticeable symptoms. Some strains of HPV can cause certain cancers, including:
- Cervical cancer
- Vaginal cancer
- Vulvar cancer
- Penile cancer
- Throat cancer
- Oropharyngeal cancer
- Anal cancer
HPV is estimated to cause almost 36,000 cases of cancer in men and women every year, according to the CDC.
Genital warts are another possible complication of HPV. These warts can sometimes itch, burn or cause pain. Women may develop warts inside or outside of the vagina, while warts may occur on this penis or around the anus for men.
Some people learn they have human papillomavirus after seeking medical care for genital warts. While there is currently no reliable screening method for men, signs of HPV-related cellular changes in a woman’s cervix can be detected during a routine Pap smear.
Human papillomavirus resolves on its own and does not require treatment in the majority of cases. For those experiencing complications related to HPV, Tampa General Hospital offers world-class care from gynecologists, urologists, oncologists, internists and other experts who routinely care for patients with sexually transmitted infections.