Human papillomavirus, or HPV, is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If you have had sex, you probably have been infected with HPV. By age 50, an estimated 80% of women have had an HPV infection.
HPV typically clears up on its own, although the virus never truly leaves your system. There are different reactions to HPV, depending on the strain of virus you contract.
Symptoms of HPV
- No symptoms
- Venereal warts
- Vaginal irritation during intercourse
- An abnormal Pap smear that indicates a change that, if not stopped, could become cervical cancer
There is a vaccine that could prevent the virus and thus reduce the chances of getting cervical cancer. The best way to determine whether you have HPV is by getting a Pap smear. Government recommendations advise women between the ages of 21 and 65 to be tested annually.