What is HPV?

HPV is a very common virus spread through sexual contact. It is also the most common cause of cervical cancer. Learn more about HPV in this video

You have likely come across the term, but what is HPV? Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a common virus spread through sexual contact. It is also the most common cause of cervical cancer. There are new treatments available to help avoid this virus, which can then help impact the fight against cervical cancer. 

Both men and women can get HPV and pass it on without even knowing it. In fact, 3 out of 4 people who are sexually active will get HPV. In this video, Dr. Isabel Blumberg provides an overview of HPV and cervical cancer.

Dr. Blumberg overviews how there are more than 100 different strains of HPV. Most are harmless and clear up over time, but some can cause genital warts - which explains the name Human Papillomavirus. Papilloma is actually just the medical term to describe a wart. 

Genital warts occur because HPV can spread through sex and some forms of skin to skin contact. A small number of the different types of strains have been known to lead to cancer in both men and women - this is about 20 of the more than 100 strains that exist. 

In women HPV can cause cancer of the cervix, which is the lower, narrow part of the uterus connected to the top of the vagina. This is also where babies grow and develop inside their mother. When a woman has HPV, cells on the surface of the cervix can show signs of a viral infection. In some cases, these infected cells can become precancerous, and may eventually lead to cervical cancer.

However, it is important to note that cervical cancer is a worst case scenario with HPV. For 90% of women, the immune system clears up the virus within two years of infection.



Isabel Blumberg, MD

This video features Isabel Blumberg, MD. Dr. Blumberg is a clinical instructor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive science.

Duration: 2:24. Last Updated On: Nov. 8, 2017, 6:14 p.m.
Reviewed by: Preeti Parikh, MD . Review date: Dec. 15, 2016
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