Think you know AARP? What you don't know about us may surprise you. Discover all the 'Real Possibilities'




AARP Real Possibilities
Car buying made easy with the AARP Auto Buying Program


Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

Contests and

Dream Vacation Sweepstakes

10 weeks. 10 amazing trips. Seize your chance to win!
See official rules. 


ATM Mobile App for iPhone and Ipad

Enjoy the best of AARP’s award-winning publications

on the go with the new

AARP ePubs iPad App


AARP Games - Play Now!


Planning for Long-Term Care for Dummies

Get expert advice on planning for your own or a relative’s future care needs.


Learn From the Experts

Sign up now for an upcoming webinar or find materials from a past session.

Learning centers

Get smart strategies for managing health conditions.



Heart Disease


Most Popular



share your thoughts

What does the health care law mean to you? Your story is important. We read and learn from every story and it helps us in our educational efforts. We may even use your comments (with permission) to brief legislators, inspire readers and more. Please share your story with us. Do

8 Common STDs

From HIV to herpes, get the facts

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

What is it?

HPV is a virus with more than 100 different strains, including some that cause genital warts. In addition to producing warts on the hands and feet, approximately 40 types of HPV infect the genital area. The strains that cause genital warts are considered low-risk. High-risk strains of the virus can cause cancer; the most common cancer associated with HPV is cervical cancer. HPV is the most common STD in the nation, affecting at least 50 percent of those who are sexually active.

What are the symptoms?

The virus often has no symptoms. HPV infections frequently clear on their own within two years after infection. In some cases, genital warts may appear around the vagina, vulva, penis, scrotum, anus or rectum. Warts usually appear between six weeks and six months after infection, though it can take much longer. The warts may be too small to be noticeable. In fact, most people with HPV have no idea they’re infected.

How is it spread?

HPV is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact; intercourse is not necessary to spread the virus.

How is it diagnosed?

HPV is usually diagnosed when warts are found or following the results of an abnormal Pap test (the high-risk strains of HPV cause changes in the cervical cells that are collected during Pap smears). Because the risk of cervical cancer increases in women over 30, HPV tests are frequently part of routine physical exams. The test screens cervical cells collected during a Pap smear for the presence of the virus.

How is it treated?

There is no cure or treatment for HPV; most infections clear on their own. A new vaccine to prevent HPV is available, but it is not recommended for anyone over 26, because most sexually active adults have already been exposed to the virus. The CDC recommends that all girls get the three-shot vaccine at age 11 or 12. Boys and young men aged 9 to 26 can also get vaccinated to protect themselves and their future partners. Epidemiologists believe the vaccine will prevent many deadly cases of cervical, anal, and other cancers.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Health Blog

Discounts & Benefits

bring health To Life-Visual MD

AARP bookstore

AARP Bookstore - woman reaches for book on bookshelf


Find titles on brain health, drug alternatives, nutrition and losing weight. Do