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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About HPV

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Frequently Asked Questions About HPV

Story at-a-glance -

  • HPV is short for human papillomavirus. The term “papilloma” came from the fact that HPVs can cause warts or papillomas, which are noncancerous tumors, to appear
  • HPV is classified as a sexually transmitted disease, although technically, it should be referred to as a sexually transmitted infection (STI), and even having sex is not the only way to acquire it
  • Read on to learn more about the most misunderstood aspects on hpv

Q: What does HPV stand for?

A: HPV is short for human papillomavirus. This refers to a group of over 150 viruses, each one designated with a number, known as an “HPV type.” The term “papilloma” came from the fact that HPVs cause warts or papillomas, which are actually noncancerous tumors, to appear.1

Q: Is HPV an STD?

A: Yes. HPV is a sexually transmitted disease, although technically, it should be referred to as a sexually transmitted infection (STI).2 The term STI is actually more encompassing, as it can refer to infections that can go away and not always cause symptoms — as with the case of HPV. If an infection, however, results in a typical function of the body being altered, it is dubbed a disease.3

Q: Is HPV different from herpes?

A: Yes, HPV is different from herpes. Also called genital herpes, the latter is an STD that is triggered by either herpes simplex type 1 or herpes simplex type 2. Herpes is characterized by the appearance of blister-like sores on or around the genitals (including the rectum) and/or mouth. Like HPV, however, it is commonly passed on through sexual intercourse.4

Q: Can you get HPV from kissing?

A: There has been some debate on how HPV can be passed on orally, with some saying that the virus can be contracted through oral sex with someone infected with genital HPV, and others claiming that it can spread through open-mouthed kissing with another person infected with oral HPV.

Whatever the method of transmission, it’s possible for HPV to manifest in the oral cavity and infect the tongue base, the back of your mouth (throat) and your tonsils.5

Q: Can men get HPV?

A: Yes. Both men and women can be at risk of getting HPV. One 2017 study published in the journal JAMA Oncology found that 45% of American men ages 60 and below — about 35 million males — have a genital HPV infection.6

Q: How long does HPV take to show?

A: HPV symptoms do not immediately occur (sometimes there are no symptoms at all) due to the virus’ ability to stay latent. When symptoms do appear, they usually do so two or three months after infection, although there have been reports of the signs showing up in as little as three weeks or many years after being infected.7

Q: Can men be tested for HPV?

A: At present, only women can take the HPV test, which is available as an adjunct screening tool for cervical cancer. Unfortunately, these tests are not advisable for HPV-related cancers or genital warts in men. Instead, men can physically check their penis, scrotum and anus. If you notice any warts, sores, blisters or other abnormalities on these areas, have them checked, even if they do not cause any uncomfortable symptoms.8

Q: Can HPV come back once it has cleared?

A: Yes. While most HPV infections in men and women are transient, meaning they are cured within one or two years, there are cases wherein the virus can stay in the skin or mucosa and hide there for several years. These are known as latent infections. When the immune system weakens, HPV can reappear and lead to lesions.9

Q: How long can HPV remain dormant?

A: A latent HPV infection can stay dormant in the body for many years, at levels that are below detectable.

Q: Can you give blood if you have HPV?

A: Yes. The American Red Cross notes that STIs like chlamydia, genital herpes and HPV are not a cause for deferral, as long as the donor is feeling healthy and has met all other requirements for eligibility.10

Q: Does HPV cause discharge?

A: In most people, HPV does not have any symptoms, but in some cases, warts may appear. While genital warts are usually harmless or even unnoticeable, sometimes they may cause burning, itching and pain. In women, increased vaginal discharge may also be seen as a symptom.11

Q: Can you have children if you have an HPV infection?

A: While having the human papillomavirus in your system should not affect your chances of getting pregnant, there are instances when it can raise your chances of having precancerous or cancerous cervical cells. This can then affect your ability to become pregnant (fertility) and make it difficult for you to carry a baby full term.12


HPV: Introduction

What Is HPV?

Oral HPV

How Is HPV Transmitted?

HPV Vaccine

HPV in Men

HPV in Women

HPV Types

HPV Causes

HPV Symptoms

HPV Warts

HPV Treatment

HPV Test

How to Get Rid of HPV

Living with HPV

Does HPV Go Away?

How Do You Get HPV?

Is HPV Curable?

Is HPV Contagious?

How Long Does HPV Last?


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