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Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the virus that can cause warts on the penis, anus or surrounding areas.

HPV is very common, with more than 75% of sexually active people getting the infection, usually between the ages of 18-25. Only about 10% of people who get HPV infection actually get warts. The rest usually don’t know they have it.

Symptoms include small bumpy warts around the penis, testicles, and anus or discomfort when going to the toilet if the inside of the anus is infected, but they can also be painless. There may be no symptoms at all. If symptoms are present they will generally appear two to three months after being infected, but can take much longer. Outbreaks of warts can then appear periodically.

A physical examination of the infected area is all that is needed to detect warts.

There is currently no cure for genital or anal warts, but a doctor can remove the warts by freezing, burning using a laser, or by applying liquid wart-paint or creams. Warts can reoccur and treatment sometimes requires several visits.

Outbreaks of warts can be more severe and harder to treat in men living with HIV. Some types of genital wart viruses have been linked to a greater risk of anal cancer. This risk appears even greater for men living with HIV.

Condoms can reduce the risk of transmission but do not always cover the infected area. The warts may be present on the testicular or anal area.

A vaccine is available and is free everyone between the ages of 9-26. The vaccine only works if you are vaccinated before you start having sex. It is still useful even once you’ve had sex as you may not be exposed to all strains of HPV. Doctors can provide more information.

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