HPV Virus Types
There are more than 70 different types of HPV. Some researchers estimate that this number could be even higher, with up to as many as 200 different types of the virus.
HPV is an acronym for a virus called the human papillomavirus. It belongs to a large group of viruses that infect the skin and cause skin cells to mutate and grow irregularly. These irregular skin growths are commonly called warts, but the medical name for these tiny tumors is «papillomas.»
Risk Factors in Women vs. Men
Women are at a higher risk than men to get infected with genital HPV. There are no concrete reasons for this, but doctors suspect that women are more susceptible to the virus because they are usually recipients of bodily fluids. If a woman has sex with a man infected with genital HPV, his semen can stay in her body sometimes for hours after the deed. If the semen is infected with HPV, the longer it remains in contact with the woman’s skin, the greater the risk of infection for the woman.
Homosexual men who engage in anal sex also have a higher risk of getting a genital HPV infection than heterosexual men. The reasons for this are the same as the reasons why heterosexual women are at a higher risk of getting genital HPV. When homosexual men participate in anal sex, the semen can stay in the anal cavity for a long time. The longer any HPV infected skin or fluid stays in contact with uninfected skin, the greater the chance of an infection.
HPV is spread through non-sexual and sexual skin-to-skin contact. It can infect skin cells inside and outside the body. Common areas that can get infected are:
· Inside of mouth
Non-sexually Transmitted HPV
The HPV type spread through non-sexual skin contact causes common skin warts. These can be flat or plantar warts that appear on the arms, hands, legs, and feet.
Although these types of HPV infections can often be inconvenient and unattractive, they are common and harmless. They don’t cause cancer and can be treated easily, often with over-the-counter medications. Even without treatment, these types of HPV infections will clear themselves within two years.
Sexually Transmitted HPV
Sexually transmitted HPV infects between twenty to forty million Americans every year. These high infection statistics suggest that of all the sexually transmitted diseases out there, HPV infections are the most common.
transmitted HPV infections can be caused by one of thirty different HPV types.
With each type, the infected person gets a series of non-cancerous, cauliflower-like
lesions that are most commonly known as genital warts. The official medical
name for genital warts is condylomata
Many people become infected with the genital wart virus during an early sexual experience. The virus can cause the warts to come and go. Or the virus can remain dormant so that the infected person doesn’t even have symptoms. Even though there may be no symptoms, genital warts are highly contagious.
Genital warts usually appear on the scrotum, anus, penis and thighs in men. In women, they usually appear on the thighs, anus, vulva, urethra and cervix. And although these growths are called genital warts, they can also appear in the mouth and throat of both men and women.
Most genital warts are caused by HPV-6 or HPV-11. These subtypes are classified as low-risk HPV types because they rarely lead to cancer.
Sometimes genital warts can be carcinogenic. Carcinogenic means that high-risk types of the virus like HPV-16 or HPV-18 bring on these types of warts.
Women are more at risk for carcinogenic genital warts, especially if they get these types of genital warts on their cervixes. Carcinogenic genital warts on the cervix can lead to cervical cancer.
Men can also be at risk for carcinogenic genital warts, although their risk isn’t nearly as high as a woman’s. Carcinogenic genital warts on the penis can lead to squamous cell cancer of the penis.
Occasionally mouth and throat cancers have been linked to the HPV-16 and HPV-18 types of viruses.
HPV and AIDS
Any sexually active person can get genital warts. But those with a lowered immune system, like AIDS, are more likely to get infected since their bodies can’t fight the virus once they come into contact with it. That said, although HPV can more easily infect those with illnesses like AIDS, it does not cause AIDS. It is in no way related to the AIDS-causing human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
This page was last updated:
July 12, 2006It is not the intention of Cervicalcancer.org to provide specific medical advice, but rather to provide users with information to better understand their health and their diagnosed disorders. Specific medical advice will not be provided, and Cervicalcancer.org urges you to consult with a qualified physician for diagnosis and for answers to your personal questions.