Human papillomavirus

infection caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV)

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus that can infect the skin or mucous membranes (like the genitals, or inside the mouth) of humans. They cause warts.[1] Some of them may cause cancer. There are over 100 different virus types in this group. About 40 virus types can be transmitted sexually. About 12-15 can cause cancer.

Most cases of HPV can be prevented by a vaccine,[2] which also would stop the HPV from causing cancer. Most cases of cervical, oral and throat cancer are caused by HPV.[3][4] The HPV immunisation programme has almost eliminated cervical cancer in women born in England since September 1995.[5]

A first step in treatment is the use of salicylic acid. This is available in pharmacies, usually without a prescription. If this does not help, the wart can be frozen, and destroyed that way, or a laser can be used to destroy it. If this still does not help, different methods of chemotherapy can be used.


  1. Gordon, Marsha; Alice E. Fugate The Complete Idiot's Guide to Beautiful Skin Penguin Group 1998 page 192
  2. HPV vaccine fact sheet
  3. HPV fact sheet
  4. "HPV oral cancer facts". Archived from the original on 2016-02-10. Retrieved 2016-02-17.
  5. "A Fresh Shot". Policy Exchange. Retrieved 2023-10-20.

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