What are warts?

Anal and genital warts are caused by a virus (the human papillomavirus or HPV) that lives in the skin. The virus is transient meaning it is not a virus that you have for life. 

The wart virus (HPV) is passed by skin-to-skin contact: this can happen during sex. It’s also possible for the virus to be passed on when no visible warts are on the skin.

The genital wart strains aren’t passed on other parts of the body like the hands or fingers.

How are warts prevented?

You can reduce the risk of warts being passed on by using a condom when having sex.   I would remove the lines about the strains. I would add HPV vaccination to this page

How do I know if I have warts?

After infection very small growths (the size of a pinhead to begin with) appear on their own or in groups. They can grow on your penis, anus, groins and testicles and may itch or bleed.

Is there treatment for warts?

Genital warts can be diagnosed by a doctor or sexual health nurse and treatments might include:

• freezing the warts with liquid nitrogen

• using a prescription cream at home

• sometimes warts can be burnt or scraped off

How will I know when the virus is gone?

There is no test to determine whether the HPV virus is gone. If the warts have gone for three months then you are unlikely to be very infectious.

Can genital warts cause cancer and should I get vaccinated?

It’s recommended that all gay and bisexual men aged up to, and including 45, should be vaccinated against HPV.

There are over 200 different types of HPV, some of which are known to be associated with cancer (cervical, anus, penis, mouth and throat, vagina and vulva) and genital warts. Evidence suggests that 80-85% of anal cancers, 30-70% of oropharyngeal, and 50% of penile cancers are linked to HPV infection.

Vaccination is delivered in three doses with the second dose at least one month after the first dose and the third dose at least three months after the second dose.

Pop into one of our clinics or visit the sexual health service if you’d like to talk about getting your HPV vaccination.

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