UQ Health Care is here to help you understand the risks, know the facts and protect yourself from Human Papillomavirus.
What is HPV?
Human Papillomavirus or HPV is a group of viruses that infect skin and mucosa.
HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection in males and females. In fact, around 90% of population will be infected with HPV in their lifetime.
All forms of sexual activity – oral, vaginal and anal sex – may result in the transmission of the virus.
The majority of genital HPV infections are asymptomatic and are cleared within a year.
Some mucosal HPV types are categorised as ‘high risk’, associated with the development of cervical, vaginal, anal, penile, head and neck cancers.
Of the genital HPV types classified as ‘low risk’, two serotypes contribute to approximately 95% of genital warts. These lesions are visible and do not contribute to cancer.
Condoms may reduce your risk of contracting HPV if used correctly during all instances of sexual contact, but HPV may be present on skin not covered by the condom.
Immunisation is the best prevention and should ideally be given before you become sexually active.
Cervical Screening begins at age 25, but HPV testing can be undertaken if any symptoms are present regardless of age. You should still have Cervical Screening Tests even if you have had the HPV vaccine.
There are various treatment options for genital warts, your GP will discuss these depending on the site of infection and severity.
If high risk HPV is detected your GP will discuss treatment options depending on which of the serotypes is detected and how it would be best treated, reducing future risk of cancer development.