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    HPV Symptoms and Tests

    Infection by genital HPV (human papillomavirus) is very common. At least half of people who are sexually active will contract the HPV virus at some point in their lives. Yet many will not know it and have no symptoms.

    Whether symptoms occur or not can depend on the type of HPV virus involved in the infection. There are more than 100 types of HPV. Some HPV types are associated with genital warts, although the warts are not always visible.

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    Some types of HPV are associated with cervical and other cancers, and no warts occur, and no other symptoms may be noticed. Some HPV types also cause common warts that you can find on other areas of the body such as your hands or feet.

    Many people who get genital HPV will clear it without treatment and no health problems will occur. The longer the virus is in the body, however, the higher your risk of developing health problems such as cervical or anal cancer.

    Here's what you need to know about genital HPV infection, symptoms, and diagnosis:

    HPV Symptoms

    The HPV virus lives in mucous membranes, such as those in the genital area, or on the skin. If genital warts show up, it's an indication of HPV infection. Genital warts take on many different appearances. They can be raised, flat, pink, or flesh-colored. They can even be shaped like cauliflower. Sometimes there is a single wart; other times multiple warts appear. They can be small or large. They can be on the anus, cervix, scrotum, groin, thigh, or penis.

    Genital warts can show up weeks or even months after sexual contact with a person infected with an HPV virus. That person may not know he or she is infected and is responsible for HPV transmission.

    Some types of genital HPV infection are associated with cancer, including cervical cancer and cancer of the vulva, anus, or penis. If infection occurs with one of these virus types, precancerous changes can occur in cells in the tissue without causing any symptoms.

    How Is HPV Infection Diagnosed?

    The appearance of genital warts is one way HPV infection is diagnosed. A doctor simply does a visual inspection. The HPV types associated with warts, however, are not generally the types associated with cancer.

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