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Key Information About Human Papillomavirus Infection

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Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is a viral infection that commonly causes skin or mucous membrane growths (warts).

HPV Warts in the Throat

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons




The type of HPV that causes warts on your hands or feet is a cutaneous (or skin) type, while the type that causes genital warts is a mucosal type.

— Emma McGowan, certified sex educator.


Human papillomavirus infection is caused by human papillomavirus.

Papillomaviruses are small, non-enveloped, epitheliotropic, double-stranded DNA viruses that infect mucosal and cutaneous epithelia in a wide variety of higher vertebrates in a species-specific manner and induce cellular proliferation.

The infection occurs when the virus enters your body through a cut, abrasion or small tear in your skin.

HPV infection is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). It is passed on through sex without protection.


Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

HPV is extraordinarily common and is the most common sexually transmitted disease. Almost every sexually active person gets exposed to at least one, if not several, of the 15 carcinogenic viruses.

— Mark Schiffman, MD, National Cancer Institute (NCI).


Symptoms of this disease vary with the strain of HPV. Sometimes the virus can cause genital warts. Some types of HPV can cause cancer.


There is no cure for the virus itself. Infection usually clears up on its own, without treatment.

In fact, about 70 to 90 percent of cases of HPV infection are cleared from the body by the immune system. And it often does not make people sick.

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The goals of treatment are: resolving symptoms and preventing complications.

Elimination of dysplastic lesions is the goal in treating squamous intraepithelial lesions (SILs).

Treatment is reserved for patients with visible warts. The general treatment strategy is to eliminate as many of the visible lesions as possible.

The two most common medications available are:

  1. Podofilox (Condylox)
  2. Imiquimod (Aldara).

"Unlike chlamydia or gonorrhea where you can take an antibiotic and get cured, we don't have anything that will get rid of HPV," said Dr. Diane Harper, senior associate director and professor of family medicine and obstetrics and gynecology, University of Michigan.

In a 2013 randomized pilot study, women with HPV+low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion who took oral Lactobacillus casei (1X1010CFU/day) for six months had a twice as high (60 vs 31 percent) chance of clearance of their HPV-related cervical abnormality as a control group.


The best protection is to abstain from sex. CDC now recommends 11 to 12 year olds get two doses of HPV vaccine—rather than the previously recommended three doses—to protect against cancers caused by HPV. The second dose should be given 6-12 months after the first dose.

While no particular diet has been shown to prevent HPV infection or the cancers associated with HPV, there is evidence that following a healthy, plant-based diet high in naturally occurring vitamins and minerals strengthens the immune system.



For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. What is HPV?
    • Hidden papillomavirus
    • Heavy papillomavirus
    • Human papillomavirus
    • Huge papillomavirus
  2. HPV infection causes _____
    • headache
    • bleeding
    • cuts
    • warts
  3. Papillomaviruses are ________
    • double-stranded RNA viruses
    • double-stranded DNA viruses
    • single-stranded DNA viruses
    • single-stranded RNA viruses
  4. HPV infection is the most common sexually transmitted infection.
    • True
    • False
  5. What percent of cases of HPV infection are cleared from the body by the immune system?
    • 50-70
    • 60-80
    • 70-90
    • 80-100

Answer Key

  1. Human papillomavirus
  2. warts
  3. double-stranded DNA viruses
  4. True
  5. 70-90

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Srikanth R

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