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Latinas and HPV: Education and Prevention

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What is HPV?


HPV Prevention


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HPV: An Overview

Understanding what HPV is and how it is transmitted is crucial to preventing infection. However, with over 100 different types of HPVs out there, it can be difficult to get a clear picture of this complex disease. For this reason, the following overview is intended to provide straightforward information on the most common types of sexually-transmitted HPVs.

About HPV

As mentioned earlier, HPV is the most common STI: There are an estimated 20 million people infected in the U.S., with around 6.2 million new cases every year. Of the 100 or so different types of HPVs, 40 can be passed on through sexual contact. These types are called genital HPVs, and they can infect the genital and oral areas of men and women. These include "the skin of the penis, vulva (area outside the vagina), and anus, and the linings of the vagina, cervix, and rectum." (Centers for Disease Control, 2008) The mouth and throat areas can also become infected.

Symptoms of HPV

The vast majority of HPV infections cause no symptoms (90%), as they are eventually destroyed by the body's immune system. This means that many people never know that they are infected. Those infections that manage to survive the body's defenses can potentially result in either genital warts or cervical cancer. "The types of HPV that can cause genital warts are not the same as the types that can cause cancer." (CDC,2008)

Genital warts typically appear in the genital areas of men and women, but can also be found on the thighs, anus, mouth and throat. The warts are small bumps that may appear in groups of bumps or as single, isolated bumps. They may vary in size and can be raised or flat. They can also appear weeks or even months after coming in contact with the virus.

HPV types that cause cervical cancer usually have no symptoms, meaning that regular screenings with your doctor are critical for prevention. Along with cervical cancer, some HPV types can also cause cancer of the vulva, penis, and vagina. However, these types are much less common than those that lead to cervical cancer.

How is HPV transmitted?

HPV is passed on through genital contact, which can occur during vaginal, oral, or anal sex. The majority of people infected with HPV carry the infection until it is destroyed by the body, a period that can last up to two years. These individuals are capable of transmitting HPV to their partners during this time. Those who remain infected after two years are capable of transmitting HPV for as long as they have the virus. Because some types of genital HPV have no symptoms, there is the risk of not knowing if you or your partner are infected before having sex.This makes prevention of HPV even more important.

Click here to learn about methods for preventing HPV.



Accessibility | Privacy | ASU Disclaimer This site was created by Carlo Guerrero in fulfillment of requirements for the course TCL 323 : Latino Health Issues taught by Dr. Szkupinski Quiroga at Arizona State University, Spring 2008." target="_blank" class="bottomtextlink">Arizona State University, Spring 2008.



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