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What’s the deal with HPV?

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus that is primarily transferred by skin-to-skin sexual contact. In fact, HPV is so common that over 80% of sexually active adults will get HPV at some point in their lives.

While over 150 types of HPV have been identified, only some types are known to cause health problems such as genital warts and cancers. Testing positive for HPV is not a negative reflection on you, your partner, or your lifestyle.

There is no treatment for the HPV virus. Most high-risk HPV infections have no symptoms, are harmless, and are cleared by the body’s immune system within two years. Since there are often no symptoms, a woman may never know that she or her partner has HPV. However, when the presence of HPV continues, certain types of high-risk HPV can progress to precancer or cancer. In women, HPV 16 and HPV 18 are the two highest risk types, known to cause close to 70% of cervical cancer cases.

Click on the video to learn more about how HPV infections can lead to cervical cancer.

Over 80% of sexually active adults will get HPV at some point in their lives
90% of HPV infections are cleared within 2 years
Around the world, cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers in women.
70% of cervical cancers are caused by the two highest risk types, HPV 16 & HPV 18

What should I know about cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers in women worldwide. Cervical cancer occurs when the cells of the cervix grow abnormally and invade other tissues and organs of the body.1 Persistent infection of certain high-risk types of HPV are known to be the primary cause of cervical cancer. When HPV infection persists, normal cells change into abnormal cells–it could take as much as 10-15 years for these cells to become cancerous, although in some women this change may happen faster.

As with all cancers, an early diagnosis is key to successful treatment and cure. Treating precancerous changes that affect only the surface of a small part of the cervix has a higher chance of being successful than treating invasive cancer that affects a large portion of the cervix or has spread to other tissues in the body.

When it comes to understanding your risk for cervical cancer, routine cervical cancer screening is one of the most important steps you can take. So, it’s important to go to your regular checkups, even when you are feeling healthy, and talk to your healthcare provider about your screening and test options. Learn more about your HPV and cervical cancer screening options.  



Know Your Risk for Cervical Cancer Facebook Community

Openly talking about HPV helps to make the topic less of a taboo.

Know Your Risk for Cervical Cancer is a Facebook community dedicated to increasing women’s awareness and knowledge about HPV, its role in cervical cancer, the importance of screening tests, and connecting with other women. Join our community of more than 67,000 individuals dedicated to encouraging each other to be in control of their own health and wellness.



1 WebMD. (2019). Cervical cancer. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/cancer/cervical-cancer/cervical-cancer#1 (accessed April 2020).