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What is HPV?

HPV (human papilloma virus) is a sexually transmitted virus. It can be in your system for years before you get any symptoms.

HPV is an epidemic. Over 6 million new cases will be diagnosed this year. It is possible that up to 50% of men and women between the ages of 19-22 are already infected

HPV can cause genital warts and can cause abnormal cells of the cervix. There is no way for your doctor to know you have HPV if you don't have symptoms, unless a specific test for HPV is done. This test is not routine.

Most men never get symptoms from HPV and there is no reliable test to diagnose HPV in men besides looking for symptoms.

Even when a person knows that he or she has HPV, there is no reliable way of preventing a sexual partner from catching it. That's because HPV can be anywhere on the genitalia, and a condom only covers the penis.

The important thing to keep in mind is that women who have HPV are at risk for developing precancerous cells of the cervix and should have a Pap smear every year. Precancerous cells are easy to treat and this can prevent the development of cervical cancer.