Although many types of HPV are not usually life-threatening, at least 12 strains, also known as high-risk strains or oncogenic strains, can lead to cervical cancer.
Types 16 and 18 are the cause of the majority of HPV-related cancers. Aside from the cervix, these strains can also lead to cancers in the vagina, vulva, penis, anus, throat, tonsil, and mouth.
Everyone from all races and ages can get infected with HPV. Different HPV strains have different risk factors. A person can also get infected with more than one strain.
Sexual activity – The more sexual encounters a person has, especially if they have more than one partner, the more likely they are to develop HPV infections.
Age – In children, skin warts are more common, while genital warts are more prevalent in adults.
Weak immune system – People who have a weak immune system such as HIV positive individuals or people who have autoimmune diseases are highly susceptible to having HPV infections since the immune system cannot clear the infection out on their own.
Skin injury – Having scratches, cuts, and other open wounds makes a person prone to having HPV infections.
Direct contact – Touching someone infected with HPV can put a person at risk of acquiring the virus. A simple handshake with someone who has warts in their hand can increase a person’s risk of infection.
Indirect contact – Using shoes and towels of a person who has HPV infection increases the risk of having the virus. Being in moist places exposed to a person with HPV such as pools and changing rooms can also promote transmission of the virus.
Poor hygiene – Not taking a bath especially after a dip in the pool or not washing your hands often and properly puts you at risk of acquiring the virus.
HPV is a virus that has a lot of strains. Low-risk strains cause skin and genital warts while high-risk strains cause cancers in the reproductive systems of both male and females. High-risk strains can also cause cancers in the mouth. Everyone is at risk of developing HPV infections.
Learn more about HPV here.