The Lowdown on Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

So all the recent conversations we’ve had here on genital warts and HPV motivated me to email a Dr friend to ask her for the lowdown on the virus and this is what she said:

Genital warts are caused by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) strains 6 and 11. Cervical cancer is caused mainly by strains 16 and 18. There are 2 cervical cancer jabs one can take to guard against HPV: Cervirax which protects only against 16 and 18 and Gardesil which protects against all four of those strains. So the first point is if you want to get a vaccination against HPV then you need to make sure you’re getting the right vaccination.

The vaccines prevent future infection from HPV, so if an idividual already has HPV then a vaccine will be ineffective. The rate of transmission is quite low from one off episodes of sex so one is more likely to get HPV infection from a long term relationship with an infected partner due to mulitiple exposures. That said the rate of HPV infection among sexually active people in their lates 20s to 30s has been reported as high as 70% so the likelihood is most of us already have it. THat’s why the vaccination programme is aimed at 12-13yr olds in the UK as it needs to be given before you become sexually active. Once you are sexually active, the most important things are to use barrier methods (which only slighly reduce transmission rates because they do not cover the whole anogenital tract) and to have regular cervical smears.

Someone who has had sex with a person who has genital warts will not know for quite some time if they have the wart virus from the person or some other guy as it can take weeks or years for people with the virus to develop warts. Some people just carry the virus and never get warts and others clear the virus.

3 comments On The Lowdown on Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

  • Very useful info.
    Nana, if appropriate, add pictures to this post. Will be good to have visual aids right here so readers immediately see the HPV indicators..

  • @Mike – Thank you. The main challenge with pictures is that I have decided to only use original pictures on this blog…I am not a fan of downloading images off the internet and so I can only put up images if I have a volunteer with visible symptoms of HPV who will be happy for one of my photographer friends to shoot him/her. Any volunteers based in Ghana email adventuresfrom[at]

  • @Nana – Come to think of it, this is an aside by the way, can you put up videos or audios on this blog?

    I ask because in the future there may be relevant resource in such formats
    related to a post/discussion and you might want to share. Who knows…

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