Like most guys, I’d never heard of the human papillomavirus (HPV) until quite recently and, to be honest, I’m still not quite sure how to pronounce it. Like most sexually-active guys, there’s a good chance that at some stage during my life I have or will contract HPV and not even know about it.
That’s a hell of a lot of ignorance considering that HPV is probably the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in circulation and also happens to be the primary cause of cervical cancer in women.
HPV is most commonly spread through skin-to-skin contact during vaginal, oral and anal sex. There are more than 150 different strains or types of the virus. Most of them are benign, which is the reason why so many men get infected without even knowing about it.
Just in case you’re wondering, genital warts are small, single or multiple, fleshy, pinkish-white growths on the tip or shaft of the penis, testicles, scrotum, groin, thighs or anus.
While the raised, flat, round or cauliflower-shaped bumps don’t usually hurt, they are extremely contagious and can spread to other parts of the body.
While condoms offer some protection against HPV, they are less effective than they are against many other STIs. In recent times vaccines have been shown to be quite effective in the prevention of genital warts as well as HPV transmission.
(Andrew Luyt, Health24)
Genital warts in pictures (warning, graphic content)
How can genital warts be prevented?
What are the symptoms of genital warts?