Human papillomavirus, or HPV, is a sneaky invader. Genital HPV, pictured above, is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S., yet most of the people who have it have no idea that they've been exposed. More than 40 types of HPV can be spread through sexual contact. Approximately 20 million Americans are infected with the virus right now. About half of sexually active men and women will contract HPV during their lifetime. The good news is that nearly 90% of those infected will never know they had HPV. Their immune system will fight it off naturally, and they will remain symptom free. However, some varieties of HPV cause genital warts, which can also spread to the mouth and throat. Even more critically, certain varieties can lead to cervical cancer, and less common cancers of the sexual organs, head and neck. Because HPV is a silent attacker, thorough preventive measures and regular medical screening are the key to avoiding its worst effects.
Learn more about avoiding HPV and detecting its more serious symptoms:
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