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HPV/Genital Warts Health Center

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Genital Warts (Human Papillomavirus) - Cause

HPV infection is caused by a virus. More than 100 types of HPV have been found. Some types cause genital warts and some can lead to cervical cancer. Types 6 and 11 cause most genital warts. Other types such as 16 and 18 are high-risk and can cause abnormal cell changes on the cervix.

How the infection is spread (transmission)

HPV is spread by direct contact.

  • The virus can be spread to or from the genitals, anus, mouth, or throat during sexual activities. But warts in the mouth or throat are extremely rare. Condoms can lower your risk of getting genital warts.
  • After the infection occurs, it may spread to other areas of the genitals or to the anal area.
  • You can spread the virus even if you do not have any symptoms of infection or any visible warts.
  • There is a small chance that a pregnant woman can pass the virus to her baby.
  • Children can get genital warts from sexual abuse.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 21, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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