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How Is HPV Contracted? -- An Overview

HPV is spread through skin-to-skin contact. This means that genital HPV transmission occurs mostly through genital contact with an infected person. Most HPV infections have no signs or symptoms; therefore, most people are unaware that they are infected, yet their sex partner can still contract HPV. It is not known if HPV transmission can occur when the virus levels in the body are low or undetectable.
Contracting HPV from a sexual partner is common and occurs quite easily. In fact, at least 50 percent of sexually active men and women will get a genital HPV infection at some point in their lives. By age 50, at least 80 percent of women will have acquired a genital HPV infection.
Although using a condom is a good idea to prevent transmission of other infections or diseases, condoms may not protect sexual partners from contracting genital HPV infections.

Contracting HPV During Pregnancy

In rare cases, a baby can contract HPV through an infected mother (see HPV and Pregnancy for more information).
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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