- What is sexual health?
- What is safe sex?
- Sexual health checks
- Sexually transmissible infections (STI's)
Genital Warts (HPV)
Both girls and guys can get genital warts.
Genital warts are fleshy growths or bumps seen most often on and around the genitals, anus and inside the vagina. They are caused by a group of viruses called human papilloma viruses (HPV).
Genital warts are usually not painful. Most people who have HPV don’t develop visible warts because their immune system keeps the virus under control.
How do you get it?
Genital warts are spread through direct skin-to-skin contact in the genital area, similar to the way genital herpes is spread. This mainly occurs during sex, but can be passed from mother to baby during childbirth. Even if no warts are visible, the virus can still be passed on, which can make it hard to know if you’re at risk.
How do I know I have it?
People who find a growth or lump should go to their local doctor or sexual health clinic, who will be able to tell if it is a wart by the appearance of the growth or lump. If the growth or lumps looks unusual, it may need a biopsy. This means sending a small piece of the growth or lump to a laboratory for testing. Certain types of HPV can be picked up on Pap smears in women. All sexually active women should have regular Pap smears.
Many people with HPV infections do not have any obvious symptoms, but can still pass the virus onto their sexual partners.
Some types of HPV infection which cause genital warts can be prevented by vaccination.
The vaccine is available to all 12-13 year old girls in Year 8 through the School Based Vaccination Program. Alternatively, Year 8 girls can receive the vaccine from their doctor, however, a consultation fee may be charged. For further information about the HPV vaccination see the Immunise Australia Program website or the Human papillomavirus HPV and immunisation fact sheet.
Using condoms and/or dental dams for all sexual contact can also reduce the chance of HPV being passed from person to person.
What’s the treatment?
There is no cure for HPV infection, but the visible warts can be successfully treated. As there is no cure, some people find that obvious genital warts continue to return and they need to get regular repeat treatments.