How to Prevent HPV


The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) exists in approximately 200 strains, a number of which are sexually transmitted and associated with genital warts and several types of cancer. While HPV treatments exist and can be effective in eliminating warts, there is an ever increasing focus on measures to prevent the HPV virus.

While the HPV virus is understood to be sexually transmissible, it actually requires no penile penetration or exchange of bodily fluids to be passed on; skin to skin sexual contact can cause the virus to spread.

With an estimated 70% of the population infected with HPV, the virus is highly prevalent. In most cases, it does not cause serious health problems although for some people, undiagnosed and untreated HPV can cause cancer, including: cervical cancer, head and neck cancer, penile cancer and anal cancer.

So, how can HPV be prevented? Today, there are two absolute methods of HPV prevention: abstinence and the HPV vaccine.


Having no sexual contact is a certain way to prevent the HPV virus.

Abstinence is an unrealistic expectation for most adult humans and so other ways or reducing the risk of contracting the virus need to be heeded.

HPV Vaccine:

The HPV vaccine does not offer protection against all strains of HPV, but it is effective in protecting the individual against the strains of HPV that cause cervical cancer and genital warts.

The vaccine is targeted at girls and women aged 11 – 26 years, but in some cases it is given to girls as young as nine.

The intention is to vaccinate girls before they become sexually active and are exposed to HPV.

Other Ways to Reduce the Risk of HPV Transfer:

Aside from abstinence and the HPV vaccine which is obviously not available to all, there are other ways that people can reduce their risk of HPV infection.

Use of Condoms During Sex:  Practicing safe sex and using a condom during sexual intercourse has been shown to reduce the risk of developing HPV by approximately 70%.

Using condoms is effective in preventing the transmission of other types of sexually transmitted infections, but the transfer of HPV through skin to skin contact, rather than bodily fluids only, needs to be kept in mind. This means that although the penis is covered during intercourse, other areas of the genitals are exposed and these exposed areas may be enough to transmit the virus.

Restrict Your Number of Sexual Partners:  Restricting the number of sexual partners that an individual has throughout their lifetime may reduce their risk of contracting the HPV virus. Similarly, it is understood that long term monogamous relationships reduce the transfer of different strains of the virus being spread.

The highly contagious nature of the HPV virus and its transfer through skin to skin contact means that individuals have to be particularly mindful and be educated in how this disease is contracted. Although effective HPV treatments are available, HPV is linked to some types of cancer and in some rare cases can result in death if the virus is not identified, diagnosed and treated in time. As more research is undertaken to determine the role of HPV in the development of particular types of cancer, it is widely agreed that prevention of the disease whenever possible is preferable.