The Illinois Department of Public Health said that human papillomavirus (HPV) is a group of viruses. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said that genital HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases.
About 20 million Americans currently have HPV. WomensHealth.gov added that at least half of all sexually active men and women get genital HPV at some point.
Mayo Clinic wrote that there are more than 100 varieties of human papillomavirus and more than 40 different strains that specifically affect the genital area in both men and women.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said most people with HPV don’t develop symptoms. In 90 percent of cases, the body’s immune system clears HPV naturally within two years. When it can’t, HPV can cause genital warts, cervical cancer and other, less common but serious, cancers.
IDPH said genital warts are usually soft, moist, pink, or flesh-colored swellings. They appear flat or raised, single or multiple, small or large, and sometimes cauliflower shaped. They’re found on the vulva, in or around the vagina or anus, on the cervix, and on the penis, scrotum, groin, or thigh.
The HPV types that cause genital warts aren’t the same as high-risk types that can cause cancers, the CDC said.
The Mayo Clinic said that most cervical cancer is caused by two specific types of genital HPV. Early stages of cervical cancer typically cause no symptoms so it’s important that women get regular Pap tests to detect any precancerous cervical changes.
Genital HPV is contracted through sexual intercourse, anal sex and other skin-to-skin contact in the genital area, said Mayo Clinic.
There’s no cure for HPV, but the CDC reported that genital warts can be removed with medication. Mayo Clinic said surgical procedures include freezing off warts with liquid nitrogen, using electrical current to burn off warts, and surgical removal or laser surgery.
The NIAID warned that the virus is still present in the body, so unfortunately warts can return.