Human Papillomavirus and Genital Warts
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most common causes of sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the world.
Health experts estimate there are more cases of genital HPV infection than any other STD in the United States.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 6 million new cases of sexually transmitted HPV infections are reported every year. At least 20 million people in this country are already infected.
Genital warts (sometimes called condylomata acuminata or venereal warts) are the most easily recognized sign of genital HPV infection.
Many people, however, have a genital HPV infection without genital warts.
Genital warts are soft, moist, or flesh colored and appear in the genital area within weeks or months after infection.
They sometimes appear in clusters that resemble cauliflower-like bumps, and are either raised or flat, small or large.
Genital warts can show up in women on the vulva and cervix, and inside and surrounding the vagina and anus. I
n men, genital warts can appear on the scrotum or penis.
There are cases where genital warts have been found on the thigh and groin. See Genital Warts Treatment
More than 100 different types of HPV exist, most of which are harmless.
About 30 types are spread through sexual contact and are classified as either low risk or high risk.
Some types of HPV cause genital warts--single or multiple bumps that appear in the genital areas of men and women including the vagina, cervix, vulva (area outside of the vagina), penis, and rectum.
These are considered low-risk types.
High-risk types of HPV may cause abnormal Pap smear results.
They could lead to cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, anus, or penis.