HPV transmission typically occurs through direct skin-to-skin contact, including genital-to-genital contact. In fact, the virus is spread easily between sexual partners, making it one of the most common STDs. And because there are often no signs or symptoms, most infected people are unaware that HPV transmission has occurred. A pregnant woman can transmit HPV to her baby during vaginal delivery, but this is extremely rare.
How Is HPV Transmitted? -- An Overview
Human papillomavirus (or HPV for short) is a group of over 100 different types of viruses. They can cause several different diseases, depending on the specific type of HPV, as well as where the infection occurs. Some diseases that HPV can cause include warts (including genital warts), precancerous changes, and cancer.
HPV is typically transmitted through direct skin-to-skin contact. The virus may also spread by touching something that has been contaminated with the virus and then touching the skin, although how often this occurs, if at all, is not known.
Transmission most often occurs from another person. It is possible for a person to infect themselves, although this is thought to be a rare method of transmission.
It is not known if HPV transmission can occur when the levels of the virus in the body are low or undetectable.
Winer RL, Lee SK, Hughes JP, Adam DE, Kiviat NB, Koutsky LA. Genital human papillomavirus: Infection incidence and risk factors in a cohort of female university students. Am J Epidemiol. 2003;157:218-226.
Roden RB, Lowy DR, Schiller JT. Papillomavirus is resistant to desiccation. J Infect Dis 1997;176:1076-9.
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