HPV STD, or human papillomaviruses, refers to a collection of viruses that are transmitted through sexual contact. There are over 150 strains of HPV currently known. It is the most common sexually transmitted disease.
How It Is Transmitted
HPV is spread through sexual contact, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex, with the first two being the most common methods of transmission. An infected person does not need to have symptoms to be able to pass the disease on to others. It is possible to contract the disease even without having multiple partners.
Who It Affects
Because HPV is so common and spread so easily, anyone who is engaging in unprotected sex can contract the disease. However, the more partners a person engages in unprotected sex with, the greater the risk will be. The prevalence and ease of transmission of the disease is why the HPV vaccine is recommended before someone becomes sexually active.
HPV STD does not always present with symptoms. Having noticeable symptoms is more common in women than in men. However, both can be affected. Some potential symptoms of HPV include:
- Genital warts
- Anal warts
- Sores in the mouth and throat
- Common, plantar, and flat warts anywhere on the body
- Abnormal pap smears
While warts are unpleasant, the risks of contracting HPV are far worse. Upper respiratory lesions can cause infections and difficulty breathing. Cancer, especially cervical cancer, is often caused by certain strains of HPV. However, this is not limited to the cervix or to women; HPV can cause cancer of the genitals, anus, mouth, and upper respiratory tract as well.
Due to HPV being prevalent and largely asymptomatic, anyone who is sexually active should be screened for it at least once a year.