The human papilloma virus, also known as HPV, is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections/diseases, being a radically different virus from HIV or HSV (herpes). According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in every 4 Americans is infected with HPV and most of those infected are their late teens and early 20s.
The virus manifests itself in different ways and while in most cases its effects are minor and unnoticeable, it is important to keep HPV in check, as it is known to be one of the causes of cervical cancer.
A sexually active person can contract HPV by having vaginal, anal, or oral intercourse with someone already infected by the virus. In many of the cases, the person infected may be unaware that he or she is HPV positive, because no signs or symptoms have been experienced. It is also worth noting that a person might not develop symptoms until years after contracting the virus, making prevention more difficult and transmission more common.
Although treatments do exist, these target either non-cancerous outcomes or focus on the prevention of cancer through screening for abnormal cellular activity. As such, the best way to prevent infection is by getting vaccinated, as it is the safest and most effective way of prevention. Boys and girls should get vaccinated beginning age 11, and there are also catch-up vaccines for those who did not get it earlier.
Another good way of managing HPV is by getting screened for cervical cancer beginning age 21, and if you are sexually active, practicing safe sex is highly recommended reduces your risk of contracting not only HPV but also all other sexually transmitted diseases or STDs. While practicing safe sex is always recommended, it is worth noting that in the case of HPV, condoms may not be 100% effective in preventing infection.