Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), Cancer, HPV Testing, and HPV Vaccines : Frequently Asked Questions

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How do you get genital HPV?

Genital HPV is spread mainly by direct skin-to-skin contact during vaginal, oral, or anal sex. It’s not spread through blood or body fluids. Infection is very common soon after a person starts having sex with one or more partners.

Transmission by genital contact without sexual intercourse is not common, but it can happen. Oral-genital and hand-genital transmission of some genital HPV types is possible and has been reported.

Transmission from mother to newborn during delivery is rare, but it can happen, too. When it does, it can cause warts (papillomas) in the infant’s breathing tubes (trachea and bronchi) and lungs, which is called respiratory papillomatosis. These papillomas can also grow in the voice box, which is called laryngeal papillomatosis. Both of these infections can cause life-long problems.


Last Medical Review: 05/02/2013
Last Revised: 05/02/2013