Will There Ever Be a Cure for HPV and Genital Warts?

At the moment, there is no cure for human papillomavirus (HPV), but genital warts can be treated by removing the wart.

Scientific understanding of HPV and genital warts has advanced considerably in recent years. Vaccines to prevent infection have been developed and were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2006, 2009 and 2014. And since 2003, five different tests for HPV have been approved by the FDA.

But there has been less progress in the development of effective treatments.

Treatments for Genital Warts

Genital warts can be treated by removing the wart. The following treatments must be done in a healthcare provider's office:

  • TCA (trichloracetic acid): A chemical is applied to the surface of the wart.
  • Cryotherapy: Freezing off the wart with liquid nitrogen.
  • Electrocautery: Burning off the wart with an electrical current.
  • Laser therapy: Using an intense light to destroy the wart.
  • Excision: Cutting out the wart.

Some treatments can be done at home with prescription creams, including Aldara or Beselna (imiquimod), Condylox (podofilox or podophyllotoxin), and Veregen (sinecatechins, or green tea extracts). Because Aldara and Beselna act on the immune system, it is important to talk with your healthcare provider about the best prescription wart treatment for you if you are living with HIV.

Over-the-counter wart removal products are not recommended. Some treatments should not be used by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

These treatments don't cure you of HPV, the virus that causes genital warts. Warts can reappear after successful treatment.

Treatments for Dysplasia and Cancer

Some types of HPV can cause abnormal cell growth known as dysplasia. Dysplasia can develop into various cancers in men and women.

Most treatments for dysplasia focus on destroying the abnormal cells so that they do not become cancer. Treatments for cervical or anal cancer include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Cancer is most treatable when it is diagnosed and treated early, so regular exams are extremely important.

More on Genital Warts and HPV at TheBody.com

To find out more about HPV and genital warts, we recommend the following articles:

In addition, our Q&A experts sometimes address questions about HPV and genital warts in our "Ask the Experts" forums. Here are some of those questions and our experts' responses:

  • Cure for anal warts?
    Is there a cure for anal warts? My doctor gave me laser treatment, but my warts are coming back.
  • What treatment works best?
    I'm an HIV-positive man with anal and genital warts. Will they ever go away? Cryotherapy didn't work.