About HPV—What is HPV?
HPV, or Human Papillomavirus, is the virus that causes genital warts. You can get it from sexual contact with someone who already has it. Unfortunately, it's not always easy to tell if someone has HPV. Sometimes the only way to tell if someone has it is if you get an infection after you have skin-to-skin contact with them. While HPV is not fatal (you won't die from it), there is no cure. Many types of HPV can cause cancer. If you get HPV, you'll have it for the rest of your life. It is the most common sexually-transmitted disease. Young adults ages 15–24 have the highest risk for getting infected.
About HPV—How do you get it?
HPV is transmitted by skin-to-skin contact with someone who is already infected. You can get it through vaginal, anal and oral sex, whether or not your partner even knows he or she has it. Unprotected intercourse with more than one partner creates the biggest risk for getting it, but any sexual genital contact can put you at risk.
About HPV—How can you prevent it?
The best way to avoid HPV and any sexually-transmitted infection or disease is, of course, not to have sexual contact at all, and when you do decide to become sexually active, stick with only one partner for life. Select partners who have been tested and are sure to be HPV and STD-free. When you become sexually active, get regular checkups and Pap tests to insure that you are clean as well.
Using a condom during intercourse will greatly reduce the risk of getting HPV, but it's not completely safe. The infection can spread beyond the area covered by a condom, in which case you can still be exposed to the virus.
About HPV—How do you know if you have it?
Most HPV infections are invisible, don't have any symptoms, and most people don't even know they have it. That's why it's important to get regular checkups and let your doctor know when you decide to become sexually active. Although that's an uncomfortable conversation to have, it's important to get the necessary tests to make sure you stay healthy.
About HPV—Genital Warts
One of the visible symptoms of HPV is genital warts. They often start as small bumps, alone or in clusters, around the genitals. As they get bigger, they look more like cauliflower. They can be itchy or irritated, but usually have no side effects at all. They are REALLY contagious, though, infecting most people who come into contact with them.
About HPV—Positive Pap Test
Regular Pap tests are really important for sexually active young women. Getting tested every one to two years once you are in your late teens or once you start having intercourse can discover any abnormal, precancerous cells on your cervix. Discovering them early can reduce the danger of actually getting cancer (from HPV or other reasons) to almost no danger at all.
About HPV—How is it treated?
HPV itself can't be cured. Warts often fade away by themselves, but can be treated by a doctor. If you do have genital warts, it's important to get treatment to prevent future outbreaks.
There are vaccines that can be given to prevent many types of HPV. These vaccines can't prevent all types of HPV, but they can prevent some of the most dangerous, cancer-causing types. There is a lot of disagreement right now over who should get the vaccine and when. Some people think all young girls should get the vaccine before they become sexually active. Other people think this is a bad idea because they think it makes girls think they don't have to practice safe sex or abstinence once they have the vaccine. Some other people are concerned that they don't know the long-term effects of the vaccine yet, so they want to wait until they get more information about it.
What do you think?
About HPV—How can you prevent spreading it if you have it?
Using a condom can help a lot. Unfortunately it doesn't completely erase the risk of getting genital warts or HPV. That's because the warts can spread beyond the area covered by a condom, keeping you at risk.
About HPV—Fast facts
Can a virgin get HPV? Yes. You can get it from putting your mouth, anus, or genitals in contact with an infected person's genitals.
Can you get it from a toilet seat? No. Viruses can't survive for long outside the body, so contact with a toilet seat isn't risky.
Are lesbians more at risk? Any genital-to-genital contact with an infected person puts you at risk, whether your partner is male or female