How is HPV Contracted?

Most people know that HPV is spread through skin-to-skin contact during sexual intercourse (vaginal and anal). And while condoms provide excellent protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), they only provide some protection against HPV.

Because condoms do not cover all the skin around your genitals, you can still get the HPV virus though skin-to-skin contact in the genital area even if you’re wearing a condom. It can also be spread through contact with other areas that aren't covered. In other words, you can get HPV through oral-genital or hand-genital contact – not just intercourse!

In fact, there has been a huge spike in HPV-linked oral cancer. Researchers reported that over a 20-year period ending in 2004 the percentage of oral cancer linked to HPV surged from 16% to 72%.

Remember, just like any STI, you can be infected with cancer-causing HPV after only one exposure to someone who has the virus.

Furthermore, you can be infected with HPV more than once, even if you’ve already been exposed to HPV before. Your body may not have developed long-term protection against the virus, and/or you may come into contact with a completely different strain of the virus (there are over 100 different types of HPV).

Here’s a link to the journal article I mentioned above on HPV and Throat Cancer: