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What is the human papillomavirus (HPV)?

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Quick Answer

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a very common sexually transmitted disease that both men and women can get, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While most men and women who are sexually active either have or will contract the virus at some point in their life, there are vaccines that can help to prevent the virus.

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What is the human papillomavirus (HPV)?
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Full Answer

HPV can be spread through any sexual contact, but it is most often spread through anal or vaginal sexual intercourse, as stated by the CDC. The infected person does not have to be displaying symptoms in order to spread the virus, which lends to a high spreading rate. While most cases of HPV heal or dissipate without any need for medical intervention, some cases can be exacerbated and develop into other health concerns, such as genital warts or cancer. In addition to cervical cancer, severe cases of HPV can lead to cancers in the vulva, vagina, penis or anus. Those who are immunocompromised or dealing with other health issues are more likely to develop more serious side effects once HPV has been contracted.

To lower the chances of contracting HPV, both males and females should get vaccinated. Sexually active women should get regular screens to test for cervical cancer in order to achieve early detection or even prevention of the cancer.

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