HPV Strains 101… A Quick Refresher.


The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) comprises more than 100 different virus strains. The name papillomavirus, was given to this group because certain strains cause warts, or papillomas, which are benign (non-cancerous) growths.

Some HPV virus strains are responsible for the “common wart” - annoying kind of warts we sometimes get on our hands and/or feet (i.e. from locker room floors). HPV strains 2 and 4 are the most common causes of these unattractive, lesions.

Other strains of HPV are not as harmless. More than 40 different strains of HPV can be sexually transmitted. Of those 40, 4 stand out the most because of their notorious ability to cause genital warts and cervical cancer.

HPV types 6 and 11 are the most common cause of genital warts, and account for approximately 90% of genital wart infections. These strains are rarely associated with cancer. Warts may appear within several weeks after sexual contact (skin-to-skin) with someone who is infected with HPV.

HPV types 16 and 18 are the most common “high risk” types, and can lead to cervical cancer (these two strains are the ones that the HPV vaccine immunizes against), and cause about 70% of all cases of cervical cancer. HPV type 16 also causes about 85% of all anal cancers.

Some oropharyngeal cancers are also caused by HPV infection (mainly HPV type 16), and the incidence of HPV-related oropharyngeal cancers is on the rise.

Remember, although the use of condoms offers excellent protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), 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.

And that concludes HPV Strains 101, I hope this has been informative.


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