In the Know

HPV

What is HPV?

HPV is a big family of viruses. Some may cause warts and others cancer. You can get HPV through unprotected vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Even when using a condom, HPV can be contracted through skin-to skin contact with infected areas not covered by the condom. It is the most common viral STI among teens.

What are the symptoms?

Most women may not have any symptoms and some HPV viruses clear out on their own. Some types of HPV produce warts (moist, pink growth around the anus or genitals). Other types of HPV can cause cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, anus, penis, and throat.

How do I get tested?

As part of your annual Pap test (swab of cervix).

How do I get treated?

There is no cure. Some warts can be removed.

What if I don’t treat it?

No cure. Some warts may clear on their own, but they could still cause cancer years later.

How can I prevent it?

Abstinence is the only way to prevent it 100%. Get the HPV vaccine before you become sexually active and always use a latex, polyurethane, or polyisoprene condom during sex to reduce your chance of getting infected. The vaccine is given in 3 doses and helps prevent most cases of HPV that lead to cervical cancer. Routine Pap smears help prevent cervical cancer.

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