As in every virus of this family, HPV only causes productive infections on the stratified epithelium of the skin and mucous membrane in humans, as well as in a variety of animals.

The majority of the described HPV do not cause any symptoms in most people. Some types of HPV may cause warts or condylomas, while others may cause subclinical infections that may (in a minority of cases) cause cervical cancer, cancer of the vulva, vagina, and anus in women, or cancer of anus and penis in men. Most people with HPV do not know they have the infection. All HPVs are skin-to-skin spread.

The use of condoms protects from HPV infection in 70 % of cases. In the remaining 30 % of cases it does not protect, it is due to injuries in areas not covered by the condom or its misuse.

The FDA (Dirección General de Alimentos y Drogas de EEUU) approved a prophylactic vaccine against Human Papillomavirus (HPV). The vaccine provides less benefit to women already infected with HPV types 16 and 18, that is to say, most of the sexually active women, considering the vaccines have no therapeutic effect on the already existent infection or cervical injuries. For this reason, the vaccine is mainly recommended for women who are not sexually active yet. CDC recommends women between 11 and 26 years old get vaccinated, though 9-year-old girls can also get benefits. The real effectiveness of the vaccines to reduce the incidence rate and uterine cervix cancer is still unknown.

Considering today's vaccines do not protect women against all HPV serotypes that cause cervical cancer, women must have routine PAP and cytology tests, even after having received the vaccine.

The vaccine can also be applied to boys from 9 to 15 years old to help protect boys against some anus cancers and pre-cancers, as well as to prevent anus and genital warts. These vaccines must be administered before being sexually active, if already active, make sure not to have had contact with the virus, even though they are approved for different age groups.

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