HPV (Genital human papillomavirus) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI), and there are more than 40 HPV types that can infect both males and females. HPV can infect the genitals (penis or vagina) and can also infect the mouth and throat. HPV is passed on through vaginal sex, oral sex and anal sex. HPV can be passed on between straight and same-sex partners—even when the infected partner has no signs or symptoms. It is also possible to get more than one type of HPV.
Most people who become infected with HPV do not even know they have it or that they are passing the virus on to a sex partner.
In 90% of cases, the body’s immune system clears HPV naturally within two years. But, sometimes, HPV infections are not cleared and can cause:
• Genital warts
• Rarely, warts in the throat
• Cervical cancer and other, less common but serious cancers, including cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and the back of throat including base of tongue and tonsils.
The types of HPV that can cause genital warts are not the same as the types that can cause cancers. There is no way to know which people who get HPV will go on to develop cancer or other health problems. If your body does not clear the HPV virus, once you are infected, you will always have HPV.