Questions and Answers on HPV and HPV vaccine

Armen Hareyan's picture

What is Human papillomavirus or HPV?
Human papillomavirus, or HPV, is a very common virus infecting more than 20 million men and women in the United States. There are about 100 different types of HPV. Most are harmless and do not cause any problems, but some types cause cancer and genital warts. HPV is the major cause of cervical cancer in women and is also associated with several other types of cancer in both men and women. Most people who have HPV do not have any symptoms and do not know they have the virus. They can easily spread it to others.

How is it spread?
HPV is spread through sexual contact even without intercourse. Rarely, pregnant women can pass HPV to their babies during birth.

Is HPV the same thing as HIV or herpes?
No, HPV is not the same as HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) or herpes virus (herpes simplex virus or HSV). While these are all viruses that can be sexually transmitted, HIV and HSV do not cause the same symptoms or health problems as HPV.


Is there a cure for HPV?
There is no "cure" for HPV although in most people the infection goes away on its own. There are treatments for the problems that HPV can cause, such as genital warts, changes to cervical cells and cancers caused by HPV.

How common is HPV?
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. At least 50 percent of sexually active people will get HPV at some time in their lives. Every year in the U.S., about 6.2 million people get infected with HPV. HPV is most common in young women and men who are in their late teens and early 20s.

How can HPV be prevented?
The best way to prevent HPV is to abstain from all sexual activity. People with only one sexual partner can get HPV if their partner got the virus from an earlier relationship.

What is the HPV vaccine?
The HPV vaccine is a non-infectious vaccine prepared from highly purified virus-like particles that can protect against infection with some, but not all types of human papillomavirus. The vaccine, Gardasil