Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

HPV is the most common viral sexually transmitted and blood-borne infection (STBBI). It spreads through skin-to-skin contact and oral, anal, or genital sex.

Some strains of HPV can cause genital and anal warts. Other HPV strains can lead to cancers of the cervix, vagina, vulva, penis, anus, mouth, and throat.

Signs and Symptoms

  • HPV may have no signs or symptoms, making it difficult to tell if you or your partner are infected.
  • Understanding the possible signs and symptoms and early detection strategies are important in prevention and treatment.
  • Genital warts are sometimes the only visible signs of an HPV infection. They often appear as small, red, or white cauliflower-shaped flat or raised lumps that are painless but can sometimes cause itching or burning. They can appear on or inside genital areas, including the thighs.

Testing and Treatment

If you think you have been exposed to HPV or see visible signs of genital warts, contact your healthcare provider. Cervical screening for individuals with vulvas and health exams for individuals with penises are important ways to ensure early detection. Consult your healthcare provider and follow the provincial cervical screening guidelines.

There is no cure for HPV; see your healthcare provider for vaccination and treatment options. Click here for more information.


To reduce your risk of contracting HPV, follow these practices:

  • Talk about STBBIs and safer sex options with every partner to ensure you protect one another
  • Reduce the number of sexual partners
  • Use a condom and/or oral dam properly and consistently each time you are sexually active
  • See your healthcare provider or go to a sexual health clinic to be tested for STBBIs if you are sexually active or starting a sexual relationship with a new partner
  • You and your partner should be tested for STBBIs before becoming sexually active and then again in three to six months
  • Check that you are up to date with vaccinations against Hepatitis and HPV (Human Papillomavirus)
  • Reduce/quit smoking
  • Routine cervical cancer screening (Pap test) for individuals with vulvas. Consult with your health provider and follow cervical screening guidelines according to provincial guidelines.

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Last updated: 2023-07-25