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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.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: August 05, 2013
    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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