HPV, or human Papillome virus, is a group of viruses that belongs to the family Papillome viruses. This type of virus is called Papillome virus because it can cause so called Papillome or warts (which are harmless). Human Papillome virus, or wart virus, is common and approximately 80 percent of the population have some time in life been infected with some sort of genital HPV. Mostly the HPV infection heals by itself and you do not even notice that you have been infected. But sometimes symptoms show and in certain cases the infection can lead to serious diseases.
There are more than 100 different types of HPV. Sixty of them causes warts on the skin and are harmless. Others, approximately 40 types, are so called genital human Papillome viruses and aim for mucous membranes, especially in the genital area. In the genital area some can cause warts, also called genital warts or condyloma. Other genital HPV types can also be the cause of slight cell alterations (that is cell alterations that do not lead to cancer, also called low grade cell changes or low risk alterations).
In the genital area there might also be other types of HPV that can cause serious cell alterations (which in turn can develop into for example cervical cancer). Approximately 15 of the HPV-types that looks for the genital area are so called high risk types and can lead to cervical cancer. Two of these causes roughly 70 percent of all cervical cancers. Theses two types are also the main cause for a great number of different genital cancers and also tonsil cancer. Of the different HPV-types that causes condyloma, type 6 and 11, represents 90 percent of all cases.
How does the HPV virus pass on the infection? Different types of human Papillome virus pass on the infection by itself in different ways. The viruses that are responsible for hand- and feet warts pass on the infection through the skin by touching of the wart itself or if one gets in contact with the skin cells from the warts (that falls of the wart every day by the thousands). This sort of human Papillome virus can also pass the infection indirectly, via floor in swimming pool facilities. The types that affects the genital parts pass on the infections through contact with the mucous membrane and the sex organ, often when having sexual intercourse. Since human Papillome virus can pass on infections without the person itself has any symptoms, the virus can be transferred without any one knowing about it. You can carry the HPV virus for months or years since the last time having sex.