Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

There are over 100 types of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and it is the most common sexually transmitted disease.  Up to 26% (about 1 in 4) of women between the ages of 14 and 59 will test positive for the HPV virus.  50% of sexually active young women will test positive for HPV within 36 months of becoming sexually active. 

There may be no signs or symptoms if you become infected with the HPV virus; however, several of the HPV types can cause abnormal cells on the cervix, cervical cancer, or genital warts called condyloma.

There is no treatment available for the HPV virus.  In most cases, the body’s immune system will clear the HPV virus within 24 months.  If the HPV infection is not cleared and persists, you are at higher risk of developing cervical cancer.

If your pap smear detects abnormal cells, it may be automatically tested for the HPV virus.  Knowing if the HPV virus is present will help determine if additional testing is necessary and the treatment options.

A vaccine is available that will protect you from many, but not all, of the HPV types that cause cervical cancer and condyloma.  The vaccine is given in a series of 3 injections to women between the ages of 9 and 26.  Condom use may provide some protection from HPV infection, but not in all cases.