Hesperian Health Guides

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

In this chapter:

There are many types of human papilloma virus (HPV). Some types cause genital warts. A few types of HPV can cause cancer of the cervix, throat, anus, or other parts of the body. The type of HPV that most people have does not cause any visible signs or illness.

A simple screening test, where a health worker looks at the cervix after applying vinegar, can show if there are abnormal cells on the cervix caused by HPV. A safe and painless treatment called cryotherapy freezes and kills the abnormal cells on the cervix so they do not develop into cancer. See more information about testing for and treating cancer of the cervix.

There are vaccines that prevent HPV. Which one is available may depend on where you live. All protect against the types of HPV that cause most of the cervical cancer in the world and the types that cause most genital warts. It is best to vaccinate all children and youth against HPV before they become sexually active to protect them from getting or spreading HPV infections.

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This page was updated:13 Nov 2023