Transmission & Symptoms of HPV


Transmission of High-Risk HPV That Causes Cancer

High-risk Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is known for its ability to cause various types of cancer. The most dangerous types of HPV in terms of cancer risk are types 16 and 18, although other types like 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58 are also associated with cancers. Below is an outline of the contagion of high-risk HPV and the types of cancer it can cause:

HPV is primarily transmitted through sexual contact. This includes:

  • Vaginal, anal, and oral sexual relations: Genital-genital, genital-anal, and genital-oral contact can transmit the virus.
  • Skin-to-skin contact: HPV can be transmitted even without penetration, through intimate skin contact in the genital area.
  • Contaminated objects: Although less common, the virus can be transmitted through the sharing of sex toys or contact with contaminated surfaces.

Transmission of Low-Risk HPV That Causes Warts

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) can cause different types of warts depending on the strain of the virus and the part of the body affected. The contagion of HPV and the appearance of warts vary according to the type of wart and its location.

Genital Warts:
  • Caused by: Mainly HPV types 6 and 11.
  • Transmission:
  • Sexual contact: Vaginal, anal, and oral sex with an infected person.
  • Skin-to-skin contact: Through close skin contact in the genital area, even without complete penetration.
  • Autoinoculation: Less common, but a person can transfer the virus from one part of their body to another.
Anal Warts:
  • Caused by: Mainly HPV types 6 and 11.
  • Transmission:
  • Sexual contact: Anal sex with an infected person.
  • Skin-to-skin contact: Similar to the transmission of genital warts.
Oral Warts (mouth and throat):
  • Caused by: HPV types 6, 11, 16, and 18.
  • Transmission:
  • Oral sex: Oral-genital contact with an infected person.
  • Deep kissing: In rare cases, mouth-to-mouth contact can transmit the virus if there are microlesions in the mucosa.
Common Warts (verruca vulgaris):
  • Caused by: HPV types 1, 2, 4, 27, and 57.
  • Transmission:
  • Direct contact: Direct touch with warts from another person.
  • Indirect contact: Sharing objects like towels, manicure tools, or contaminated surfaces.
Plantar Warts:
  • Caused by: HPV types 1, 2, 4, and 63.
  • Transmission:
  • Direct contact: With a plantar wart from another person.
  • Contaminated surfaces: Walking barefoot in public areas like pools, showers, and gyms.
Flat Warts:
  • Caused by: HPV types 3, 10, 28, and 49.
  • Transmission:
  • Direct contact: With a flat wart from another person.
  • Autoinoculation: Through scratching, spreading the virus to other parts of the body.


The contagion of HPV and the appearance of warts depend on the type of HPV and the location of the infection. Prevention through vaccination and safe sexual and hygiene practices is key to reducing the risk of transmission.

Symptons of Being Infected with HPV

Symptoms in the Genital Area

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) can cause various symptoms in the genitals of both men and women, although many people may not show evident symptoms. Here are the most common symptoms for each gender:

Symptoms in Men:
  • Genital warts: Small warts or bumps on the penis, scrotum, anal area, or around the anus.
  • Flat lesions: Small, flat spots, sometimes hard to see, on the penis or anal area.
  • Irritation or itching: Itching or irritation in the affected areas.
  • Pain or discomfort: Pain during sex or urination, though this is less common.
Symptoms in Women:
  • Genital warts: Warts on the vulva, vagina, cervix, anal area, or around the anus.
  • Flat lesions: Flat spots on the vulva, cervix, or anal area, sometimes not visible to the naked eye.
  • Changes in vaginal discharge: Abnormal discharge that may indicate changes in the cervix.
  • Pain or discomfort: Pain during sex or urination.
  • Abnormal bleeding: Vaginal bleeding outside of the menstrual period, especially after intercourse.
General Considerations:
  • Asymptomatic: Many people with HPV do not show visible symptoms but can still transmit the virus to others.
  • Detection and prevention: Regular check-ups and screenings, especially for women, such as Pap tests and HPV tests, are crucial. HPV vaccination is an effective preventive measure for both genders.
  • Consultation: If an HPV infection is suspected, it is important to consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Symptoms in the Mouth and Throat

HPV can infect the mouth and throat, and symptoms can vary. Some people may not show visible symptoms, while others may experience the following:

  • Warts: Small warts or bumps in the mouth, lips, tongue, throat, or tonsils.
  • Oral lesions: Red or white spots on the mucous membrane of the mouth.
  • Pain or discomfort: Persistent sore throat, discomfort when swallowing, or feeling like something is stuck in the throat.
  • Hoarseness: Changes in voice, such as hoarseness without an apparent cause.
  • Swelling: Swollen lymph nodes in the neck.

It is important to consult a healthcare professional if these symptoms occur, as they may indicate an HPV infection or other medical conditions. Early detection and appropriate treatment are crucial to preventing complications.

Symptoms in the Cervix

HPV can infect the cervix and often does not cause visible symptoms until the infection progresses. However, some signs and symptoms may indicate the presence of HPV in the cervix:

  • Asymptomatic: Most HPV infections in the cervix do not show symptoms in the early stages. This is especially common and one of the reasons why screenings are crucial.
  • Precancerous or cancerous lesions: In advanced cases, HPV can cause cellular changes in the cervix that can lead to cervical cancer if not detected and treated in time.
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding: Bleeding outside of the regular menstrual cycle, after sexual intercourse, or after menopause.
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge: Unusual discharge, which may be watery, thick, or have an unpleasant odor.
  • Pain during sexual intercourse: Pain or discomfort during sex, known as dyspareunia.
  • Pelvic pain: Constant or recurring pelvic pain, though this symptom is less common.

How Long Does HPV Live Outside the Human Body?

HPV does not survive long outside the human body. While there is no exact consensus on the specific duration HPV can remain viable on surfaces, most studies and experts suggest the virus has limited survival outside its host.

Factors Affecting HPV Survival Outside the Body:
  • Type of surface:
  • Dry and hard surfaces: HPV tends to deactivate more quickly on dry, hard surfaces.
  • Moist and porous surfaces: It can survive a bit longer in moist environments and porous materials, though still for a relatively short period.
  • Environmental conditions:
  • Temperature: HPV is sensitive to extreme temperatures and survives better at temperatures close to the human body.
  • Humidity: A humid environment can slightly prolong its viability, but not significantly.
  • Ultraviolet (UV) light: Exposure to direct sunlight and UV light can inactivate the virus quickly.
Survival in Specific Studies:
  • Some studies have indicated that HPV can remain viable for hours or even days under ideal laboratory conditions, but in everyday life, conditions are usually not ideal for its prolonged survival.
  • One specific study found that HPV could survive up to 24 hours on non-porous surfaces like metal or plastic under laboratory conditions, but the virus’s infectivity decreases significantly over time.


HPV has a limited life outside the human body, and its ability to cause an infection decreases rapidly in non-ideal environments. However, maintaining good hygiene and disinfection practices can help further reduce the risk of indirect contagion.

Importance of Early Detection

Since HPV infections in the cervix are often asymptomatic, regular screenings are essential. These include:

  • Pap test (Pap smear): Detects precancerous changes in cervical cells.
  • HPV test: Detects the presence of human papillomavirus in the cervix.

HPV vaccination is an important preventive measure to reduce the risk of infections and the development of cervical cancer. Consulting a gynecologist for regular check-ups and following screening recommendations is crucial for cervical health.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top