According to the Centers for Disease Control, HPV (human papillomavirus) is the most common sexually transmitted disease. Unfortunately, unlike syphilis or gonorrhea, there is no treatment. Also, unlike most other STDs, using condoms doesn’t completely prevent it from being spread.

There are about a hundred strains that cause genital warts, cervical cancer, penile cancer, vaginal cancer, and anal cancer. Even though researchers have identified so many, they still don’t have a cure. Viruses are tricky things.

That’s pretty scary stuff. You can’t prevent it, and you can’t really treat it.

Well, actually, you can prevent it, but nobody likes to hear about this method--abstinence. "Safe sex" is not completely safe, unfortunately.

And now there are vaccines to prevent some of the most dangerous strains, but not all.

It is spread by skin-to-skin contact, and since a condom doesn’t cover all skin, you can still get it when using a condom.

There are also no symptoms of any of the virus strains, unless you have genital warts. But if you have one of the other types, you probably won’t have any symptoms at all, and you won't know you're infected. (Go to When did I get infected?).

The type that causes genital warts doesn’t cause cancer. Each strain is very specific for what it does.

During the routine Pap smear, testing for human papillomavirus is now common. That’s how women can find out if they have it, and if they also have dysplasia, they will probably have to have more tests, like colposcopy. There is no blood test for it, so there is no testing for men, unless they have the genital warts.

This is why it is so common. Nobody really knows they have it unless they have an abnormal Pap smear, or worse, cancer.

Go to Having babies after cervical cancer
Go to Vaccines
Go to Babies and HPV
Go to When did I get infected?