HPV is a viral infection. It’s very common and many people don’t have any symptoms, but some types of HPV can lead to cervical cancer, head and neck cancer, or cancer of the anus or penis.
Did you know
- HPV stands for human papillomavirus.
- HPV isn’t just one virus. There are more than 100 kinds, and some are riskier than others.
- HPV lives in thin, flat cells called epithelial cells. These are found on the skin’s surface. They’re also found on the surface of the vagina, anus, vulva, cervix and head of the penis. They’re also found inside the mouth and throat.
- The term “papilloma” refers to a kind of wart that results from some HPV types.
- About 60 of the 100 HPV types cause warts on areas like the hands or feet.
- The other 40 or so enter the body during sexual contact. They’re drawn to the body’s mucous membranes, such as the moist layers around the anus and genitals. Not all of the 40 sexually transmitted human papillomaviruses cause serious health problems.
- Each human papillomavirus has its own number or type.
- High-risk HPV strains include HPV 16 and 18, which cause about 70% of cervical cancers. Other high-risk human papillomaviruses include 31, 33, 45, 52, 58, and a few others.
- Low-risk sexually transmitted HPV strains, such as HPV 6 and 11, cause about 90% of genital warts, which rarely develop into cancer. These growths can look like bumps. Sometimes, they’re shaped like cauliflower. The warts can show up weeks or months after you’ve had sex with an infected partner.
- HPV can be dormant for many years in someone who has it and may not produce symptoms even when it becomes an active infection. There is no test for determining a person’s HPV status.