Human papillomavirus, or HPV, is a common virus that affects both males and females. Up to 90% of people will be infected with at least one genital type of HPV at some time in their lives.
HPV is easily spread through direct skin to skin contact. Anyone who has had any kind of sexual activity involving genital contact can 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.
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, including genital warts and cancers of the cervix, vagina, vulva and anus. Genital HPV infection is not something to feel embarrassed or ashamed about.