HPV and Genital Warts: Linked But Not One in the Same

Many people believe that HPV and genital warts are one in the same, but they are not. Genital warts is often referred to as HPV, and though many people use the terms as though they are interchangeable, one is actually just an indication of the other. This is something that many people don’t understand, but for most people, simply knowing that the two are linked is enough.

HPV and Genital Warts Explained

So, if HPV and genital warts are not the same thing, what’s the story? If you have been under the impression that HPV and genital warts are synonymous you aren’t alone. HPV is actually a virus, the acronym is short for human papilloma virus. This is a virus that is highly contagious and sexually transmitted. HPV is actually the virus and genital warts is a common side effect or symptom of the disease.

So, if it is a common side effect why can you not say that HPV and genital warts are the same thing? The reason is because there are many different strains of HPV and only a handful of them actually are capable of causing genital warts. When you consider this, suddenly HPV and genital warts do not seem as interchangeable as we once thought. Genital warts are only a symptom or common side effect of a very small percentage of HPV strains, so it’s hard to use these two terms interchangeably if you want to be technical.

Even if you are infected with HPV you may never be symptomatic. Many people are infected with it yet a 1/3 of those people will never develop any symptoms. This is part of the reason why HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease out there today. So many people have the disease and don’t even know it, and they end up inadvertently spreading it to other people.

The HPV virus that causes genital herpes is spread through skin to skin contact. Even if you use a condom it is possible to get HPV from another person because they can be infected in areas not covered by a condom. You can get genital herpes through anal, oral, or vaginal sex. In fact, you can get the strains of HPV that cause genital herpes without ever even having sex, if you just have close physical contact with a person that is infected.