How do you get HPV?  (and what to do to avoid catching it)

How do you get HPV? (and what to do to avoid catching it)


The main form of HPV transmission is through unprotected sexual intercourse, however the virus can also be transmitted through direct contact with lesions caused by HPV or during normal birth, in the case of pregnant women.

Although using a condom greatly reduces the chances of contamination with HPV, if the contaminated area is not properly covered by the condom there is a risk of transmission.

We do not yet know all the ways in which the HPV virus is transmitted, but it is believed that when there are no visible warts, even microscopically, there cannot be transmission.

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How transmission happens

The main forms of HPV transmission are:

  • Unprotected sexual intercoursein which genital lesions caused by HPV may have occurred;
  • Skin-to-skin contact with the individual infected with the HPV virus, simply rubbing an injured area on the infected area of ​​the other;
  • vertical transmission, in which the HPV virus is transmitted from the infected woman to the baby during normal birth.

Furthermore, HPV could also be transmitted through sharing underwear or towels with infected people, but this would only be possible if the person puts on the infected person's underwear soon after they have taken them off. However, this theory is still not widely accepted among the medical community, as it has no scientific proof, despite it appearing to be a possibility.

HPV prevention

To protect yourself from the HPV virus, avoiding contamination, it is recommended:

  • Use a condom in all intimate contact, even if the person does not have visible warts;
  • Do not share underwear that has not been washed;
  • Avoid sharing bath towels;
  • Choose a cesarean section if the wounds can be seen with the naked eye at the end of pregnancy.

It is also important to take the HPV vaccine, which is offered by the SUS to boys and girls aged 9 to 14 in a single dose. See more about the HPV vaccine.

How to treat HPV to heal faster

Treatment for HPV is slow, but it is the only way to eliminate warts and prevent transmission of the disease. Treatment involves the use of medications that must be applied by the doctor and at home by the patient, in accordance with medical guidelines, for a period of approximately 1 year or more.

It is common for the symptoms of the disease to disappear before this period, and it is very important to maintain treatment at this stage as well and use condoms to avoid contaminating others. Only the doctor, after carrying out some tests, will be able to indicate when treatment should be stopped, due to the risk of disease recurrence. See how to cure HPV.

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Mastologist and gynecologist graduated from the Federal University of Pernambuco in 2008 with professional registration in CRM PE 17459.

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