What is Human Papillomavirus?

Human Papillomavirus infects the DNA of the skin as well as the lining cells or epithelium of the external genitalia, the perianal area, the urethra, the cervix, and the vagina. Human Papillomavirus is transmitted during sexual intercourse, and from that time on, the virus obtains entry through the small erosions in the tissues of the lower genital tract that may happen as an outcome of the sexual contact. There are an estimated forty known strains; some of which cause genital warts, termed as condylomata acuminata. Other strains of about half-million new cases of genital infection caused by Human Papillomavirus are thought to transpire annually. Furthermore, it is projected that about twelve million individuals harbor this virus without even being aware of their presence. Public health officials surmise that, with newer screening as well as testing technologies that are more subtle to the existence of the virus, it will be easier to discover the number of cases which is estimated to be closed to thirty million.

This disease is so extensive since it is so freely transmitted. Some health specialists say the risk of transmission is more than 70 percent, that is, if a person engages in sexual intercourse with someone that has the virus, there is a very good chance of being infected.

Signs and Symptoms


Perhaps two months after the initial infection, warts often start to appear. The latency period, from the time of infection to the first sign of the disease, may be as long as six months, however. The warts are usually small and occur in little clusters which can be flesh-colored, pink, or pigmented like light moles. As the warts shed their superficial layer of infected cells, they spread the virus at the same time, either to other sites within the genital area or to a partner during sexual intercourse. Warts instinctively vanish in response to the body’s immune system, but may persist later.

Not all forms of HPV infection cause warts. In fact, only about one-third of women with HPV show visible signs of warts. Nonetheless, the virus is there in the lining of the cells, spreading disease for a period of six to nine months, until the immune system of the body suppresses it.