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What are the symptoms of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection?

Most often, you will not have any signs or symptoms of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. If the infection persists it may lead to genital warts, but these are typically only noted in males. As HPV infection can lead to an increased risk of cancer, and it most commonly does not present with any signs or symptoms, it is important to ask if your sexual partners if they know that they have HPV. 

Skin warts are a symptom of skin infections with human papillomavirus (HPV). Many other HPV infections do not have symptoms, including some HPV infections that can cause cancers to form.

Dr. Diane Harper
Health Education Specialist

If you've been infected with human papillomavirus (HPV) you may not even know it. In this video, HPV expert Dr. Diane Harper explains why.

Infection with human papillomavirus (HPV) can be compared to infection with a common cold virus in terms of the natural progression of the illness. The body is exposed to the virus and, while the virus is active, the host will experience symptoms of viral infection. In the case of the common cold virus, one could experience a runny nose or cough. In the case of HPV infection, the only symptom of viral infection may be an abnormality on the annual Pap smear. Once the immune system mounts an effective response, the runny nose or cough resolves, and in the case of HPV, the abnormal Pap result resolves. For young women, the average amount of time for clearance of the HPV virus is 8 to 24 months.

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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.