Find out more: HPV and males

HPV and Males

HPV explained

Human papillomavirus, or HPV, is a common virus that affects both males and females. There are more than 100 types of the virus. In fact, certain types of HPV cause common warts on the hands and feet. Most types of HPV are harmless, do not cause any symptoms, and go away on their own.

About 40 types of HPV are known as genital HPV as they affect the genital area. Up to 80% of males and females will be infected with at least one type of genital HPV at some time.

Genital HPV types may be "high-risk" types (such as HPV types 16 and 18) that have been shown to cause some forms of cancers, or "low-risk" types (such as HPV types 6 and 11) that can cause genital warts.

HPV is easily spread through direct skin to skin contact. Anyone who has any kind of sexual activity involving genital contact could get genital HPV. That means it's possible to get the virus without having intercourse. And, because many people who have HPV may not show any signs or symptoms, they can transmit the virus without even knowing it. A person can be infected with more than one type of HPV.

It is estimated that many people get their first type of HPV infection within their first few years of becoming sexually active.

Genital HPV infection is not something to feel embarrassed or ashamed about. It is very common and for the majority of people who have HPV, the body's defences are enough to clear the virus. Up to 90% of infections are “cleared” within the first 36 months. It could almost be considered a normal part of being sexually active.

How will I know if I have HPV infection?

Because HPV infection does not usually show any signs or symptoms, you probably won't know you have it. Most people can therefore get HPV and pass it on without even knowing it.

Consequences of HPV infection

In most people HPV is harmless and has no symptoms, but in some people the virus may persist and lead to disease of the genital area, including:

In males: genital warts and some anal cancers.

In females: cervical cancer, some vaginal, vulval and anal cancers and genital warts.

What are genital warts?

Genital warts are benign, flesh-coloured growths that are most often caused by certain "low-risk" types of HPV.

Genital warts most often appear on the external genitals or near the anus of males and females. Genital warts may cause symptoms such as burning, itching, and pain. Up to 90% of genital warts cases are due to infection with "low-risk" HPV types 6 and 11. The types of HPV that cause genital warts are different from the "high-risk" types that can cause cancer.

Genital warts are quite common. Approximately 1% of young sexually active people have them at any one time. After sexual contact with an infected person, genital warts may appear within weeks, months, or not at all.

How are genital warts diagnosed?

A healthcare professional can usually recognise genital warts just by seeing them.

About anal cancer

Anal cancer affects both males and females and although relatively rare, in 2005 there were 149 cases in males and 176 cases in females.

Infection with certain types of "high-risk" HPV types (such as HPV types 16 and 18) is a risk factor for anal cancers as well as other risk factors including cigarette smoking, immunodeficiency syndromes and a previous history of genital cancers.

How are anal cancers diagnosed?

Anal cancer sometimes has no symptoms at first. Common symptoms can include bleeding and discomfort in the area. Other symptoms can include pain, itching, straining during a bowel movement, change in bowel habits, change in the diameter of the stool, discharge from the anus and swollen lymph nodes in the anal or groin area.

A doctor may diagnose anal cancer using a number of tests such as a physical exam and history, a digital rectal examination (DRE), an anoscopy, a protoscopy, a biopsy or an ultrasound.

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What is the main cause of cervical cancer and has been shown to cause some vaginal, vulval and anal cancers and genital warts?

Smoking
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection
Weakened immune system
Other infections

While factors such as the oral contraceptive pill, smoking, a woman's immune system and the presence of other infections seem to play a part, a woman has to have been infected with certain “high-risk” HPV types before cervical cancer can develop.

In most people HPV is harmless and has no symptoms, but in some people the virus may persist and lead to diseases of the genital area.

In females, HPV has been also been shown to cause some vaginal, vulval and anal cancers and genital warts.

In males, HPV has been shown to cause genital warts and some anal cancers.

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What areas of the body are different HPV types able to infect?

Hands
Feet
Genitals
All of the Above

Human Papillomavirus, or HPV, is a common virus that affects both males and females. There are more than 100 types of the virus. In fact, certain types of HPV cause common warts on the hands and feet

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Up to what proportion of males and females will be infected with at least one type of genital HPV at some time?

5%
15%
30%
80%

Up to 80% of people (males and females) will be infected with at least one type of genital HPV at some time

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There are over 100 types of HPV. Approximately how many infect the genital area?

40
60
80
100

About 40 types of HPV are known as genital HPV as they affect the genital area.

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What percentage of HPV infections are “cleared” by the body’s immune system within the first 36 months?

30%
60%
90%
99%

Up to 90% of HPV infections are "cleared" within 36 months.

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Which two “high-risk” HPV types have been shown to cause approximately 70% of all cervical cancers?

HPV 16 & 33
HPV 16 & 18
HPV 42 & 51
HPV 18 & 42

"High-risk" HPV types 16 & 18 are responsible for ~70% of all cervical cancers.

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Approximately how many new cases of cervical cancer are there a year in Australia?

200
400
600
1000

Each year in Australia approximately 600 new cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed and approximately 130 women die from this disease.

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Globally cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women?

True
False

Globally, cervical cancer is the second most common women's cancer, which is why many countries, including Australia have implemented regular cervical screening (i.e. Pap smears) programs to detect cervical abnormalities.

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Approximately how many cases of anal cancers are there each year in Australia?

25
125
225
325

Anal cancer affects both males and females and, although relatively rare, in 2005 there were 149 cases in males and 176 cases in females.

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Which two types of “low-risk” HPV types have been shown to cause approximately 90% of genital warts?

42 & 31
42 & 52
6 & 11
11 & 45

Up to 90% of genital warts cases are due to infection with “low-risk” HPV types 6 and 11

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It is estimated that what proportion of young sexually active people have genital warts at any one time?

1/50
1/100
1/250
1/500

Genital warts are quite common. Approximately 1% of young sexually active people have them at any one time.

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How are females able to help protect themselves against cervical cancer?

Attend regular Pap smears when recommended to do so
Speak to their doctor about whether they are eligible for vaccination
Use condoms to help reduce the risk of being infected with HPV
All of the above

If used correctly, condoms can help reduce the risk of genital HPV. It is now possible to be vaccinated against cervical cancer. Vaccination does not protect against all HPV types that could cause cervical cancer therefore it is important women continue with regular Pap smears.

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How are males able to help protect themselves against genital warts and some anal cancers?

Speak to their doctor about whether they are eligible for vaccination
Use condoms to help reduce the risk of being infected with HPV
Both of the above

If used correctly, condoms can help reduce the risk of genital HPV. It is now possible to be vaccinated against some types of HPV. It is important you discuss whether you are eligible for vaccination with your doctor first.

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