Advertisement

What are human papillomaviruses (HPV)?

Human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are a group of more than 100 related viruses. They are called papillomaviruses because certain types may cause warts, or papillomas, which are benign (noncancerous) tumors. The HPVs that cause the common warts that grow on hands and feet are different from those that cause growths in the throat or genital area. Some types of HPV are associated with certain types of cancer. These are called "high-risk," oncogenic, or carcinogenic HPVs.

Of the more than 100 types of HPV, over 30 types can be passed from one person to another through sexual contact. Transmission can occur in the genitals, anal, or mouth regions. Although HPVs are usually transmitted sexually, doctors cannot say for certain when infection occurred. About 6 million new genital HPV infections occur each year in the United States. Most HPV infections occur without any symptoms and go away without any treatment over the course of a few years. However, HPV infections sometimes persist for many years, with or without causing detectable cell abnormalities.

This answer is based on source information from the National Cancer Institute.

Continue Learning about HPV

Why Boys Need to Get the HPV Vaccine Too
Why Boys Need to Get the HPV Vaccine Too
The Last Waltz was the title of The Band’s final 1976 performance at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. The Band’s drummer and vocalist Levon H...
Read More
What is human papillomavirus (HPV)?
St Francis Medical CenterSt Francis Medical Center
Human papillomavirus (HPV) has many subtypes, and only a fraction of them are key in the development...
More Answers
When should women start being tested for human papillomavirus (HPV)?
Elizabeth Poynor, MDElizabeth Poynor, MD
Women over the age of 30 should be screened annually for human papillomavirus (HPV), says Elizabeth ...
More Answers
The Cancers Linked to HPV
The Cancers Linked to HPV

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.