How Is HPV Spread?

Human papillomaviruses (HPV) come in more than 100 varieties that can infect people, and more than 30 of them may cause you to get cancer. Some types of HPV are more easily spread than others, and are usually contracted while you are a child, while others require substantial skin-to-skin contact, such as during sex. According to the Centers for Disease Control and the National Library of Medicine, HPV can be spread by any type of skin-to-skin contact with a person who is infected.

  1. Anal Contact

    • If you have intimate anal contact with a person who is infected with HPV, you may become infected as well, and you can develop anal lesions and warts where the virus comes into contact with your skin.

    Oral Contact

    • Oral contact with someone who has HPV, including deep kissing and oral sex, is a way that HPV can be spread, and oral infections can result in blisters, lesions and cancer in your mouth.


    • Both women and men can spread HPV to one another during sexual intercourse, through lesions in the vagina, on the penis or on the skin of the genital areas.

    Other Contact

    • The more than 70 types of HPV that are not spread sexually can be shared by skin-to-skin contact and are usually contracted by the time you are an adult; these are the viruses that cause warts on your hands, feet and body.


    • You cannot get genital HPV by using a public toilet, by sitting on a public bench or on the bus, or by sharing linens and towels with someone who is infected.


    • Although wearing condoms when you have sex is not a guaranteed way of preventing infection with HPV, it can help to reduce your risk of this and many other sexually transmitted infections.

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