In most people, the human papilloma virus (HPV) causes no symptoms and does not develop into pre-cancer or cancer. But there are some other facts about this sexually transmitted disease that may surprise you.
Anna Wald, M.D., M.P.H., director of the UW Virology Research Clinic, shares some little-known truths about HPV.
1. You are likely to get at least one type of human papilloma virus (HPV) in your lifetime.
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. It is so common that most sexually-active men and women will get at least one type of HPV in their lifetime.
2. The type of HPV virus that causes genital warts is different from the type of HPV virus that causes cancer.
HPV is a group of more than 150 related viruses. Each type of HPV virus is given a number. HPV types are classified as either low risk or high risk based on whether they put a person at risk for cancer.
The HPV type that causes warts is low risk, meaning that it rarely develops into cancer. High-risk HPV does not cause warts, but can develop into cancer.
3. High-risk HPV types cause not only cervical cancer but also other cancers.
High-risk HPV types lead to cancers not only of the cervix but also of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus and the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils.