Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

  • HPV is spread through intimate contact: by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the virus and by direct skin-to-skin contact with someone who has the virus.
  • HPV can cause genital warts that can look like small, flesh-colored bumps or group together to have a cauliflower-like appearance. In many cases, the warts are too small to be visible.
  • HPV infections can cause cancers of the:
    • Cervix, vagina and vulva in women
    • Penis in men
    • Anus in both women and men
    • Oropharyngeal cancer, including the base of the tongue and tonsils, in both men and women
  • HPV vaccination can help prevent infection but does not treat existing infection. Many college-aged individuals received their HPV vaccinations as a teen. If you did not receive the vaccine and wish to get it now, it is not too late to get vaccinated. Call 401-874-2246 to schedule this vaccine series at URI Health Services.
  • Because HPV is common and usually resolves on its own, there is no routine test for HPV. A pap smear for females starting at age 21 will test the cells of the cervix to see if cellular changes many be related to HPV.