Genital warts are a very common STI caused by certain strains of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).
Genital warts look like warts that appear elsewhere on the body like the hands or the feet. They can appear in the pubic area, on the vulva (lips of the vagina), vagina, penis, scrotum, anus and perineum (part between the genitals and anus).
Often people have the HPV virus asymptomatically (without symptoms) on the skin of their genitals without developing actual warts. Most infections clear spontaneously.
Genital warts are spread by direct skin-to-skin contact during genital sex.
Genital warts are diagnosed visually by seeing a wart in the genital area. There is no test for diagnosing asymptomatic HPV infection.
Genital warts are usually treated with Liquid Nitrogen (“Dry Ice”). They are frozen off. Occasionally, if genital warts are very numerous or severe, they may be treated with a cream, or rarely, removed surgically.
It is difficult to avoid infection with HPV virus as condoms and dams do not provide complete protection. Most people who have been sexually active in their life will be infected with the HPV virus at some stage, often asymptomatically. Currently, vaccination against HPV virus is available to prevent infection with genital warts, ideally before exposure to the HPV virus. Speak to your Doctor at Northside clinic about this.
Other strains of the HPV virus that do not cause warts can cause cervical cell changes & cancer in women, and anal cell changes & cancer in men who have sex with men. Sexually active women should have regular pap smears, and HIV positive men who have sex with men over the age of 50 should have regular anal examinations.
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