STDs & Safe Sex
What is it?
Genital warts are growths on the skin of the genital area and around the anus. They are caused by certain types of the human papilloma virus (HPV).
There are more than 20 types of HPV that can infect the genital area. HPV can be transmitted either by touching the wart or by sexual intercourse; for this reason, condoms don’t always protect against transmission.
How is it harmful?
Some types have been associated with abnormal cell growth that, if not treated, can lead to cervical cancer.
What are the symptoms?
Most types of HPV have no symptoms, but some cause warts in the genital and/or anal areas of males and females. Warts can be painful and may bleed or discharge pus.
What is the treatment?
Medication may remove the warts. If left untreated, visible warts may resolve on their own, return unchanged, or increase in size and number. Removing warts may not alter the course of infection, make one less contagious, or make one less susceptible to cervical cancer caused by HPV.
In June, 2006 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved an HPV vaccine. The vaccine protects against 2 types of HPV that cause 70% of all cervical cancers (HPV 16 and 18) and 2 types of HPV that cause 90% of all genital warts (HPV 6 and 11). The other types of HPV will NOT be prevented by use of the vaccine.