According to the Centers for Disease Control, the human papillomavirus is spread through vaginal, anal or oral sex with an infected person - whether or not that person exhibits signs or symptoms of HPV at the time of contact. Anyone who is sexually active can get HPV and in some cases symptoms do not show up for many years. WebMd notes that as of 2014, there is no cure for HPV, however it often goes away on it's own and if not, there are treatment options available.
HPV infection is quite common among sexually active adults. According to WebMD, about 20 million Americans are infected as of 2014. The Mayo Clinic lists a number of risk factors that increase the chances of contracting the HPV infection, including age, number of sexual partners, damaged skin, a weakened immune system and personal contact with an HPV-infected person.
As of 2014, there are two types of preventative HPV vaccines. According to Planned Parenthood, these vaccines, called Gardasil and Cervarix, protect against HPV types 16 and 18, which are responsible for 70 percent of cervical cancer cases. Gardasil also protects against HPV types 9 and 11, which cause nine out of 10 cases of genital warts. Planned Parenthood states that both vaccines work by causing the body to create antibodies to these types of HPV, preventing future infection.