Human papilloma virus (HPV) and genital warts

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​Human papilloma virus is an infection that causes warts and possibly cancer. Learn about how it is passed on, treatment and prevention.

Key points

  • Human papilloma virus (HPV) can infect the outer layer of skin and the smooth, moist linings of the mouth, the rectum, the anus and genital areas of males and females. HPV 6 and 11 cause genital warts, and HPV 16 and 18 can lead to cancer.
  • HPV is passed on by skin-to-skin contact.
  • Once you have an HPV infection, the virus may stay in your body. It is possible to pass on HPV even if you do not have genital warts.
  • There are several different treatments for genital warts.
  • There is a vaccine that protects against HPV. Girls should receive the vaccine before they are sexually active.
Last updated: December 2nd 2009