Is HPV Deadly? Unraveling the Severity and Key Insights

Rahul Gupta
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Dr. Kaushal

Review medical content on WOW Rx Pharmacy, so that accurate drug use information is easily accessible to everybody.
Dr. Akansha is a licensed Clinical Pharmacologist. She possesses remarkable knowledge in Pharmacovigilance, prescription analysis, drug information, and drug safety services. Additionally, she is a keen learner and an educator.

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is hpv deadly

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a common Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI)  that affects millions of individuals globally.

According to the WHO, one in three men worldwide is infected with genital HPV. 

HPV may cause various symptoms and health issues, but not all HPV infections lead to serious problems.

The question of whether HPV is deadly remains a concern for many.

In this article, we will delve into the various aspects of HPV, its potential risks, and the importance of preventive measures.

Understanding HPV

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) are common viruses that can be transmitted sexually through vaginal, oral and anal sex. 

There are over 100 types of HPV, including strains that cause warts on the hands, feet, face, and genital area.

Genital warts are caused by low-risk strains of HPV, particularly Types 6 and 11. These warts are typically flesh-colored or slightly darker and can appear in the genital or anal areas

There is no cure for HPV, but there are vaccines to help protect against certain types of HPV and reduce the risk of cancer.

HPV can also cause other cancers, including Anal Cancer, Oropharyngeal Cancer, Penile Cancer, Vaginal Cancer, and Vulvar Cancer.

In the majority of cases (90%), HPV clears on its own within two years without complications. However, if HPV persists, it can lead to significant health issues such as the development of genital warts and, in some cases, an increased risk of cancer.

HPV transmission

couple on bed holding handsSource: March_Sirawit_Hengthabthim's_Images
Sexual contact
  • The most common mode of transmission is through sexual contact, including vaginal, anal, or oral sex, and close skin-to-skin touching during sex
  • It is important to note that most people with HPV do not have any symptoms, and the virus usually goes away on its own
  •  However, some types of HPV can cause health problems, including genital warts and certain types of cancer
High-risk HPV can take 5 to 10 years to progress from infection to cervical precancers. The development from HPV-infected cells to cancer typically spans about 20 years.

What type of cancers are caused by HPV Infection

Persistent infections with high-risk types of HPV can lead to cancer in specific areas where the virus infects cells. 

  • Anal Cancer: Over 90% of anal cancers result from HPV, with both new cases and fatalities on the risep
  • Cervical Cancer: Virtually all Cervical Cancers are HPV-caused. Routine screenings with HPV or Pap tests help prevent most cases, especially in rarely or never screened women
  • Oropharyngeal Cancers (Throat Cancer): About 70% of Oropharyngeal Cancers are HPV-related, distinct from oral Cavity Cancer. Trends in diagnosis and survival rates are crucial for understanding this form of Head and Neck Cancer
  • Penile Cancer: The majority (63%) of penile cancers are caused by HPV, typically developing on or under the foreskin
  • Vaginal Cancer: Approximately 75% of Vaginal Cancers result from HPV, presenting as a rare cancer type
  • Vulvar Cancer: Most Vulvar Cancers (69%) are caused by HPV. Monitoring trends in diagnosis and survival rates is vital for understanding and addressing this form of cancer
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Prevention for HPV

Vaccines and antibiotics serve different purposes in the bodySource: Oleg_Troino's_Images

To prevent HPV (Human Papillomavirus) infection, you are recommended to consider the following preventive measures:

  • Taking vaccination is a key preventive measure against HPV-related health issues
  • The HPV vaccine protects against several high-risk types, reducing the likelihood of infections that may lead to cancer
  •  Consistent and correct use of condoms can lower the risk of HPV transmission
  •  Limiting sexual partners also contributes to reducing exposure to the virus
  •  Regular screenings, such as Pap Smears and HPV tests, play a crucial role in early detection
  •  Detecting abnormalities in cervical cells before they progress to cancer allows for timely intervention and effective management


HPV is a prevalent Sexually Transmitted Infection, impacting millions worldwide.

While not all infections lead to severe consequences, persistent high-risk HPV types can contribute to various cancers, underscoring the importance of prevention. 

Vaccination, safe sex practices, and regular screenings are key strategies to mitigate the risks associated with HPV. 

Understanding the virus, its transmission routes, and the cancers it can cause empowers individuals to make informed decisions for their health. 

By embracing preventive measures, the impact of HPV-related health issues can be minimized.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can HPV cause cancer?

Yes, certain types of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) can lead to cancer. Persistent infections with high-risk strains may result in cervical, anal, oropharyngeal, penile, vaginal, or vulvar cancers. Regular screenings and vaccinations are crucial for prevention and early detection.

How will I know if I have HPV? 

HPV frequently exhibits no symptoms. Routine screenings, including Pap Smears and HPV tests, are essential for detection. Consult a healthcare provider for accurate diagnosis and guidance on preventive measures such as vaccination and safe sex practices.

How can I prevent HPV? 

Avoid skin-to-skin contact by abstaining from sex. Use condoms or dental dams consistently during vaginal, anal, or oral sex to reduce HPV risk. Consider getting the HPV vaccine and encourage your partner to do the same for added protection.

Is HPV treatable? 

Yes, HPV is treatable. While there’s no cure, treatments focus on managing symptoms and preventing complications. Consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice, including vaccination and safe practices, to enhance your overall health and well-being.

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