I think I have HPV. Where can you go to get rid of it and how can it be cured?

There is currently no treatment to cure HPV itself. Most HPV infections are harmless and do not require treatment. Treatment is available for genital warts caused by certain HPVs. Treatment is also available for abnormal cell changes in a woman’s cervix that are caused by certain other kinds of HPV.

HPV is a very common sexually transmitted infection. Millions and millions of women and men around the world have it. Most genital HPV infections cause no symptoms and most go away by themselves.

But a few types of HPV can linger and cause genital warts, which may be uncomfortable and unattractive, but are not dangerous. A few other types of genital HPV, however, can linger and lead to cancer of the cervix, anus, penis, vagina, and vulva.

There are several different ways to remove genital warts, including cryotherapy (freezing), electrocautery (burning), surgery, injection, or certain kinds of prescription topical creams. Abnormal growths on the cervix can be removed before they become cancerous.

There are two very good protections against the effects of HPV. One of them is vaccination. The HPV vaccine protects against two types of HPV that cause genital warts and the two types of HPV that cause about 70 percent of cervical cancer cases. The HPV vaccine is recommended for all young women between nine and 26 years old.

The other important protection against the effects of HPV is the Pap test. The Pap test can detect abnormal changes in cervical tissue long before they can become cancerous. Women should have their first Pap test three years after their first vaginal intercourse or after they turn 21 — whichever happens first. They should have regular Pap tests after that.

The most important thing for sexually active people to keep in mind is that genital HPV can be transmitted through anal, oral, and vaginal sex, as well as skin-to-skin contact. Avoiding skin-to-skin contact with someone with HPV is the most effective way to prevent HPV infection. Using condoms for vaginal and anal intercourse can reduce the risk of transmission. Oral sex is not as high risk for HPV and vaginal or anal intercourse. But to further reduce the risk during oral sex, you can use a condom to cover the penis or a Sheer Glyde dam, cut-open condom, or plastic wrap to cover the vulva or anus.

If you have more questions about getting treated for HPV, your local Planned Parenthood health center can help.