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Genital Warts

Genital warts (also known as HPV)

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the name of a group of viruses that includes more than 100 different types that cause infection on the skin surface. Certain types of HPV cause warts on the hands or feet, while others can cause visible genital warts. However, sometimes HPV infection causes no warts, and many people with genital HPV do not know they have it. The wart virus is mostly cleared naturally by the body’s immune system.

The wart virus causes an overgrowth of skin forming lumps and is spread from skin to skin contact, particularly during unprotected sexual contact.

Symptoms

The incubation period for genital warts is on average 2-3 months but may be much longer. Signs and symptoms of visible warts may include:

  • Lumps varying in size and shape ranging from raised and ‘cauliflower’ shaped to flat and smooth.
  • Lumps can be found on the penis, scrotum, vagina, anus and in the eye of the penis. Lumps can also be found in the mouth, but this is rare.

However, some genital warts are invisible to the naked eye and you may not be aware that you have the virus – which is why it is important to have regular sexual health checks.

Treatment
  • Warts can be treated by a number of methods ranging from painting, freezing, laser, acid and cream.
Prevention
  • The best way to prevent infection is to avoid direct skin to skin contact with an infected area
  • Using a condom and/or dental dam will reduce the risk of infection
  • Regular sexual health checks

 

Note

  • Genital Warts are highly contagious and checking clients is a priority
  • Recurrence rates are high, as the virus remains in the body

 

This is only a brief overview and should not substitute for professional medical advice. The Melbourne Sexual Health Centre has information about Genital Warts here:
http://www.mshc.org.au/Portals/_default/uploads/fact_sheets/hpv_genital_warts_a4.pdf

 

For more information phone RhED 1800 458 752 or email sexworker@sexworker.org.au