What is HPV? 

The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmissible infection in the world. 

Most people will get HPV at some point in their lives, but most won’t know because they have no symptoms. For most people HPV will usually go away on its own and without the need for any treatment.

There are many different types of HPV. Some forms of HPV can cause health problems such as genital warts or changes to your cells that can lead to cancer, such as cancer of the cervix, vulva, penis, anus or throat. Here are some images of HPV induced warts.

How do you get HPV?

You can get HPV or genital warts through close skin to skin contact, usually during sex. For the type of HPV that can lead to cancer, there are usually no signs you have the infection. That’s why regular cervical screening it so important – it can catch any changes in your cervical cells and you can get treatment if you need it. Other HPV-related cancers are also more treatable if they are diagnosed early.

How do I avoid getting HVP?

  1. Get the HPV vaccine. The vaccine is free for New Zealand residents aged between 9 and 26 and will help protect you from HPV and genital warts.
  2. Use condoms each time you have sex, especially if you are having sex with someone new or with different partners.
  3. For women, cervical screening every three years from age 20 to 70 will pick up any changes in the cells in your cervix, so you can get treatment if you need it.