How is HPV spread?

The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is the most common STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) here in the UK. The reasons for this are the fact that in the majority of cases it is symptomless, and it is spread through skin to skin bodily contact, socially and sexually. Most people have an HPV infection at some stage of their lives.

The most common infections are to the membranes (moist internal skin areas) of:

  • The anus
  • The cervix
  • Mouth and throat linings
  • The penis
  • The vagina
  • The vulva

The above mentioned infections are listed in alphabetical order, not in order of prevalence.

The way HPV that affects the skin is spread

There are over 100 different strains of the HPV virus and they are referred to numerically e.g. HPV 16 or 18. They affect different parts of the body. The types of HPV that affect the skin (arms, face, feet, hands and legs) are passed on by skin to skin contact.

The way HPV that affects the mouth and throat is spread

The strains of HPV that infect the mouth and throat are passed on through specific sexual behaviours such as open mouthed (French) kissing, and oral sex.  

The way HPV that affects the genitals is spread

An HPV infection that affects the genitals is normally spread through intimate, skin to skin body contact during sexual activity. The more sexual partners a person has, the greater the risk to that person of contracting an HPV infection, primarily because infected people are unaware of their infection, so the more partners the bigger the risk, statistically.

When partners may not have been unfaithful

It’s easily possible to have the genital HPV virus for a number of years without displaying any symptoms at all. In other words it is quite common to be with a long term partner for many years and only ever find out that you have an infection if you attend a screening session, such as the sexual health screening services we offer here at Broadgate Walkin Clinic London Wall.

This can lead to people mistakenly thinking their partner has been unfaithful, whereas in reality, the virus could have been contracted weeks, months or even years ago before the partnership was formed.  It important to note that men can contract HPV too, so it is important all partners are tested.

Diagnosis and vaccination via Broadgate Clinic London Wall

There is no cure for HPV once it has been acquired, but in most instances the human immune systems cures the infection anyway.

If you are concerned you may have acquired an HPV infection, or you are worried about contracting one, you can make use of the walkin-in sexual health screening services and STD clinic facility were we can test for HPV in confidence.