Are HPV and Genital Warts the Same Thing?

The Difference Between These Two STIs

Close up of genital warts
Close up of genital warts. Getty Images/Science Picture Co/Collection Mix: Subjects

Question: Are HPV and Genital Warts the Same Thing?

Answer: Yes and no. HPV is a term used to encompass over 100 different strains of the human papilloma virus. Some of these strains cause genital warts and some are known to cause cervical cancer. The type of HPV that causes genital warts does not cause cancer and the cancer causing type does not cause genital warts. They are two separate strains of the virus.

 Because both strains of HPV do not always cause symptoms, many people do not know they are infected.

An Overview of HPV

There are more than 100 types of HPV, at least 30 of which are spread by sexual contact. HPV has been linked to certain types of skin cancers as well as throat cancer, anal cancer, penile cancer, cervical cancer, and lung cancer. More than 50 percent of sexually active adults are thought to be infected with at least one strain of the virus, and up to 80 percent of sexually active women will have been exposed to the virus by the time they turn 50.

How Can HPV Lead to Genital Warts?

Genital warts are just one of the many diseases caused by the human papilloma virus. Behaviors that put you at risk of developing genital warts include:

  • unprotected vaginal sex
  • anal sex
  • oral sex
  • genital-to-genital contact
  • childbirth
  • previous sexually transmitted disease

Further Reading

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).

Learn about the basics of this sexually transmitted infection (STI).

What Is HPV? How HPV has gone from being a little known condition to a household name.

The Top 5 Things You Didn't Know About HPV. Here's what most people don't, but should, know about HPV.

Should States Be Allowed to Mandate the HPV Vaccine?

 In June of 2006, the FDA approved the first HPV vaccine. Some politicians and health professionals want to mandate the vaccine, taking sex off the table and placing the focus on the long-term benefits to children’s health.

Genital Warts. Genital warts are soft growths in the genital area. Read more about the symptoms, available treatments, and prevention.

Genital Warts 101. An even deeper dive into this particular STI.

Genital Warts and HPV. Answers to the most common questions about the connection between HPV and genital warts. What causes genital warts? How many people have them? What do they look like? Will HPV always cause them? How are genital warts diagnosed? How do you treat both HPV and genital warts? How can you prevent contracting them, or passing them along to others? Are condoms effective? Do either HPV or genital warts carry additional health risks?

Continue Reading