STIs – HPV
How do you get it?
Full name is human papillomavirus.
Many types of HPV affect the mouth, throat or genital area. They’re easy to catch.
Any skin-to-skin contact of the genital area
vaginal, anal or oral sex.
You do not need to have penetrative sex.
Condoms can help protect you against HPV, but they do not cover all the skin around your genitals, so you’re not fully protected.
HPV does not usually cause any symptoms.
Most people who have it do not realise and do not have any problems.
But sometimes the virus can cause painless growths or lumps around your vagina, penis or anus (genital warts).
Most of the time HPV does not cause any problems.
In some people, some types of HPV can cause:
- Genital warts.
- Abnormal changes in the cells that can sometimes turn into cancer.
HPV types linked to cancer are called high-risk types.
Cancers linked to high-risk HPV include:
- Cervical cancer
- Anal cancer
- Penile cancer
- Vulval cancer
- Vaginal cancer
- Some types of head and neck cancer
HPV testing is part of cervical screening. There’s no blood test for HPV.
During cervical screening, a small sample of cells is taken from the cervix and tested for HPV.
Screening is offered to all women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 64. It helps protect them against cervical cancer.
Some sexual health clinics may offer anal screening to men with a higher risk of developing anal cancer, such as men who have sex with men.
There’s no treatment for HPV. Most HPV infections do not cause any problems and are cleared by your body within 2 years.
Treatment is needed if HPV causes problems like genital warts or changes to cells in the cervix.
The HPV vaccine protects against the types of HPV that cause most cases of genital warts and cervical cancer, as well as some other cancers. It does not protect against all types of HPV.