Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus spread through sexual contact. Most of the time, HPV has no symptoms – so people don’t know they have it or that they are spreading it.
Although there are about 40 types of genital HPV, types 16 and 18 are linked to 70 percent of invasive cervical cancers in women. These cancers, plus certain throat cancers in men and women, can be prevented with HPV vaccines.
Research underscores the high rates of HPV in sexually active people. In fact, HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) worldwide. In the United States, about 25 million women age 14 to 50 are infected.
Studies suggest that adolescents and young women are the most vulnerable to HPV, with high rates of infection seen shortly after the onset of sexual activity – suggesting that many women get it from their first male sexual partner.