What Is HPV?
Human papillomaviruses, or HPV, are a group of more than 100 types of viruses. They are called papillomaviruses because certain types may cause warts, or papillomas, which are benign (noncancerous) tumors. The HPVs that cause the common warts that grow on hands and feet are different from those that cause growths in the throat or genital area. Some types of HPV are associated with certain types of cancer.
Of the more than 100 types of HPV, over 30 can be passed from one person to another through sexual contact. Although HPVs are usually transmitted sexually, healthcare providers cannot say for certain when infection occurs. Most infections come and go over the course of a few years. However, sometimes, HPV infection persists for many years, with or without causing cell abnormalities.
(Click HPV to read the complete eMedTV article on what HPV is, including detailed information on its symptoms and treatment.)