About HPV – Human Papillomavirus

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Here are a few facts about HPV – Human Papillomavirus. For more information you can download a factsheet or visit the ‘Ask an Expert’ page.

HPV facts

  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus that affects both males and females. Anyone who has ever had sexual contact could have HPV.
  • HPV is passed from person to person through sexual contact.
  • HPV doesn’t usually cause symptoms so people infected with the virus may not know they have it.
  • Different kinds of HPV can affect different parts of the body, and some types are more harmful than others.
  • The more harmful types of HPV can cause abnormal cells that lead to a range of cancers and disease. HPV can cause penile, anal, cervical, vulval and vaginal cancers. HPV can cause genital warts, which can be distressing but do not cause cancer.
  • HPV infection can be prevented by vaccination. The vaccination is most effective when given before a person becomes sexually active.
  • There are benefits in vaccinating young males and females who are sexually active, as they are likely to have had fewer sexual partners and a lower risk of exposure to HPV.