According to Cleveland Clinic, HPV affects around 14 million new patients every year. It is a very common viral infection, which impacts the reproductive tract. 
HPV is actually the name of a group of 150 viruses, which all cause skin symptoms on different parts of the body. And depending on the particular virus type, the symptoms differ :
- Skin issues include not only genitalia warts (even though this is the most common symptom). HPV caused warts can also appear on the fingers, face, scalp, soles of the feet, etc. Besides, changes in the skin cells covering the reproductive organs can lead to an increased risk of abnormality and cancer.
- Cancer. About 40 different types of HPV are directly linked to increased risk of cancer development affecting the cervix, vulva, vagina, anal, penis, and rarely mouth and throat.  In fact, around 12,000 American women are diagnosed with cervical cancer yearly, due to untreated (on not timely treated) HPV infection, which cause abnormal changes in the cervix cells.  In that case, this type of cancer can develop gradually for 15-20 years (for women with weakened immune systems it takes only 5-10 years.)  In that sense, it’s essential for every woman to attend yearly gynecology visits, in order to diagnose cancer risks timely and start early treatment.
- No symptoms. In many cases, HPV does not show any symptoms and even affected people might not know that they are infected.
Causes for HPV infection
According to Harvard Health, 80% of sexually active adults would get HPV at some point in their life. And there are different ways to get infected from being in unprotected contact with an individual that already has HPV  :
- Viganal sex
- Anal sex
- Oral sex
- Skin to skin contact with the genital area
- Sharing sex toys
- Deep kissing
The infection can be transmitted after direct infected skin-to-skin contact. Keep in mind that you can get infected even through contact with individuals who lack HPV symptoms. For them, this infection might be passive, but you may experience all the symptoms. It depends on your immune system, overall health condition, chronic diseases, and unique body system.
How to protect yourself?
The most common HPV protection is using a condom when having sex. However, this method is not entirely effective, as it can only diminish the risk of HPV transmission without eliminating it. By using such protection incorrectly or inconsistently, the chance of passing the virus or getting infected increases tremendously. Besides, condoms do not cover all the skin around your genitals, so even if you wear one correctly, you cannot rely on 100% protection. 
Vaccination against HPV is recommended by doctors for boys and girls at the age between 9 and 14 (usually before the age they become sexually active). The vaccine protects from transmission and spread of the virus, as well as decreases the risk of developing cancer and warts. At a young age, the vaccine consists of two doses, yet, individuals older than 15 should receive 3 “shots” over 6 months. 
Teens and young adults are also recommended to vaccinate, even though the effects of the vaccine are very reduced for adults and people who are already infected with HPV. For that reason, young individuals who are not yet sexually active benefit from higher efficacy and protection of the HPV vaccine. 
If you wonder whether you should get an HPV vaccine, consult the possible benefits and risks (for your own age, lifestyle, and health condition) with your health provider.
Regular medical visits
For sexually active women, it’s crucial to undergo cervical cancer screening with HPV testing and PAP smear regularly. As already mentioned, attending yearly gynecologist visits and getting a routine PAP test could detect early-stage cervix cell changes and cancer development risks in time. This way, early treatment can prevent complications and further abnormal cell development. Besides, the Office of Women’s Health recommends women to get an HPV test once every 5 years.  On the other hand, there is no recommendation for regular HPV screening for men.
There is not a specific treatment for all HPV types. If you have doubts that you are infected or have any symptoms, it’s essential to contact your health care provider and follow his instructions. He/She will prescribe you suitable medication and will give you guidelines to handle the condition.
In any case, early diagnostics and timely treatment are important for improved efficacy and result.