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Non-Infectious Genital Warts
Nov 25, 1996

Hello. I understand that genital warts are caused by HPV. I've heard that current treatments get rid of the warts but not the virus. However, removal of the warts would cause the person to be non-infectious. Is this true? You also mentioned about HPV possibly causing penile cancers. How prevalent is this and how long does it usually take? Is the cancer curable?

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi.Thank you for your question. When genital warts are removed from the genital or anal area of the body, this only removes the growths, NOT the underlying infection (due to Human Papilloma Virus--HPV). Because we cannot cure the underlying infection, the person can still infect others with the virus. In fact, because we cannot cure HPV, the warts can grow back again and again. Although we cannot cure the infection, we can get rid of the symptoms (at least temporarily).

Penile cancers (cancers of the penis) are luckily rare. However, we do know that there are factors that increase a mans chance of acquiring penile cancers. These risk factors include having penile HPV, having multiple sexual partners (increasing one's risk for HPV), never being circumcised, and even being a smoker. The more of these risk factors a man has, the greater the cancer risk becomes. Luckily only certain strains of HPV are linked to cancer, and it may take years for the cancer to begin. Like other forms of cancer, with early detection and early intervention, this form of cancer is treatable.

When it comes to HPV, the greater risk is for cervical cancer in women, and anal/colorectal cancer in both men and women. The risks and severity for these cancers increases in persons also infected with HIV. If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide). Rick Sowadsky MSPH CDS



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