What is HPV and how do I get it?
HPV - human papilloma virus - is the name for a group of viruses that can affect your skin, arse, mouth and throat. It can be passed on by skin to skin contact during sex. Most people will get HPV in their lifetime and clear the virus. But for some people, HPV can lead to cancer—such as anal, penile, head, neck and throat cancer – or genital warts. 

How do I prevent it?
HPV spreads easily, so contact with warts should be avoided. However, it can go unnoticed and so avoiding HPV can be difficult, especially since condoms do not always cover the area where it may be present.

In 2015 the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation recommended to each of the UK health departments that men who have sex with men up to the age of 45 should be offered the HPV vaccine Gardasil from sexual health clinics.

What is the vaccine and how do I get it?
The Gardasil vaccine is a course of 3 injections spread over 4-12 months. It provides protection against four HPV strains: HPV-16 and HPV-18, the two high risk HPV types that can lead to cancer; and HPV-6 and HPV-11, the two HPV types that cause approximately 90 per cent of all anogenital warts in males.

In England a pilot is currently being run across a number of sexual health clinics to deliver the vaccinations. The vaccine will be available in Wales from April 1st 2017, and a national programme is already underway in Northern Ireland. Scotland have not yet announced how they will implement the vaccine.

Ongoing lobbying efforts are underway to make it available for all school age children, and you can still pay to have it at some private health clinics.

How do I know I've got it?
Whether you have symptoms depends on the type of HPV virus, meaning there may be no symptoms or symptoms may go unnoticed. Some tests are available to detect signs of HPV in the arse by taking samples from inside the arse (known as a Pap smear test) but these are not routinely available and only offered in certain circumstances (e.g. if early signs of anal cancer are suspected).

If it presents as genital warts, HPV can be found on the inside or outside of the cock and arse. Usually white or pink, they come in a variety of shapes and sizes: smooth and flat, rough and bumpy, small and isolated, and cauliflower-like clusters. They are periodically itchy or painful, particularly if you get them inside the opening of your cock or inside your arse. If this happens, they can cause severe discomfort or bleeding when you fuck, piss, shit, or cum.

It usually takes about three months from the time of infection for genital warts to become visible. However they can appear as soon as two weeks, or up to a year after the virus is contracted. Without treatment the warts multiply and spread. A sexual health clinic will look for signs of warts as part of a routine sexual health check-up.

How is it treated?
There’s currently no treatment for HPV. Most infections don't cause any serious harm and are cleared by your immune system within two years, however, some strains of HPV are associated with cancer, so if you’re worried you should consult a doctor.

If you have warts, it can take a long time to get rid of them, and treatments may have to be repeated several times. Treatments include applying creams, freezing them with liquid nitrogen, burning them with acid or lasers, or removal by surgery as a last resort. Untreated warts can spread extensively throughout the genital and anal areas. Warts don't cause any serious health problems themselves, but they can cause irritation and make you more vulnerable to other infections like HIV.

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