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Do men and women both get HPV? What are the symptoms?

Many people have a lot of questions about HPV (Human Papillomavirus) so thanks for posting this one.  Let’s clear up what HPV is, and who can be affected.

Human Papillomavirus is very common, estimates are that around 80% of people of any gender who are sexually active have or have had HPV at some point.  So yes, everyone can carry this virus.  HPV is easily spread through skin to skin sexual contact including: oral, rectal, and genital contact or shared sex toys.

There are over 100 different strains of HPV. Most are not harmful and don’t have symptoms.  Often people don’t know they have HPV and most will clear the virus without realizing they had it.  According to research, 90% of HPV infections will be cleared by the body within 2 years.

Some strains of HPV can cause genital warts.  Other strains are linked to cervical changes that, if not detected early, can lead to cervical cancer.  While there is no test for the presence of HPV, in Manitoba pap tests are recommended every 3 years for women aged 21-69 who have ever been sexually active to monitor for changes in the cervix.  Transgender males and females may also need regular Pap tests.  Pap tests are free and you can ask your doctor for routine pap testing or go to Get Checked Manitoba to find a clinic in your area.

A few strains of HPV can also cause cancer in the penis, anus, mouth or throat.  Because HPV can affect anyone, the vaccines are given to young people of all genders to prevent the more serious strains of HPV.

For more information about what a pap test is and information on the HPV vaccines you can visit: