HPV and Cervical Cancer Facts from the CDC

HPV and Cervical Cancer

Fact Sheet

Provided by the Center for Disease control and Prevention

What is HPV?

HPV is a common virus. There are about 40 types of HPV that affect the genitals or sex organs of men and women. Some HPV types can cause genital warts. Other types can infect a woman’s cervix and lead to cervical cancer over many years. But most of the time, HPV causes no symptoms or health problems and goes away by itself within two 2 years. Experts do not know why HPV goes away in so many, but not all women.

How did I get HPV? Who gave it to me?

HPV is passed on through genital contact, most often during vaginal and anal sex. Most people never even know that have HPV or that they are passing to their partner. For this reason, it may not be possible to know who gave you HPV or when you got it. HPV is so common that most people get it soon after they start having sex. In cases when HPV does not go away on its own, it may only be found years later.

How does HPV cause cervical cancer?

HPV can cause normal cells on your cervix to turn abnormal. Most of the time, HPV goes away on its own. When HPV goes away, your cervical cells go back to normal. But HPV lingers for many years; these abnormal cells can turn into cancer.

Can I prevent Cervical Cancer?

Yes. You can get screening tests that can find early signs of cervical cancer before you ever get sick. That way, problems can be found and removed before they ever become cancer. The PAP test and HPV test are cervical cancer screening tests.

How is the PAP test different from the HPV test?

Both of these tests help screen for cervical cancer, but they look for different things. The PAP test looks for cell changes on your cervix that could develop into cervical cancer. The HPV test looks for HPV, the virus that can cause these cell changes.

How likely am I to get cancer if I have HPV?

Few women who have HPV get cervical cancer- as long as they follow their doctor’s advice for needing testing and treatment. If you have HPV, your doctor may check up on you more often and do more tests to look for changes on your cervix. That way your doctor can find and treat any changes early, so you don’t get cervical cancer.

Is there a treatment for HPV?

There is no treatment for HPV, but most people’s bodies do eventually fight the virus off. There are treatments for the health problems that HPV can cause – genital warts, cervical cancer, and abnormal PAP results. Once abnormal cells are treated and removed, you may need to get PAP tests done more often to make sure they do not come back.

Will I have HPV forever?

In most women, HPV goes away with in 2 years. We do not know why it lasts longer in some women than others.

Does having HPV affect my chances of getting pregnant or having a healthy baby?

Having HPV does not make it harder to get or stay pregnant. The type of HPV you have should not affect the health of you future babies. But if you need treatment for abnormal cells caused by HPV, the treatment could affect your chances of having babies. Ask your doctor for details about your treatment.

Will I pass HPV to my current partner?

If you have HPV and have been with your partner for a while, your partner is likely to have HPV too. There is no way to know if your partner gave you HPV, or if you gave HPV to your partner.

Can I prevent passing HPV to my new partner?

Condoms may lower your chances of passing HPV to your new partner, if used correctly and all of the time. HPV can infect areas that are not covered by a condom – so condoms may not fully protect against HPV. The only sure way of not passing HPV to you r partner is not to have sex.

Can my male partner be tested for HPV?

Right now, there is no HPV test for men. The types of HPV that cause cervical cancer rarely cause health problems in men.

The information provide in this fact sheet is from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

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