See the 2010 TREATMENT GUIDELINES for the most recent treatment information.
More than 100 types of HPV exist; more than 30 types can infect the genital area. The majority of HPV infections are asymptomatic, unrecognized, or subclinical. Genital HPV infection is common and usually self-limited. Genital HPV infection occurs more frequently than visible genital warts among both men and women and cervical cell changes among women.
Genital HPV infection can cause genital warts, usually associated with HPV types 6 or 11. Other HPV types that infect the anogenital region (e.g., high-risk HPV types 16, 18, 31, 33, and 35) are strongly associated with cervical neoplasia. Persistent infection with high-risk types of HPV is the most important risk factor for cervical neoplasia.
A definitive diagnosis of HPV infection is based on detection of viral nucleic acid (i.e., DNA or RNA) or capsid protein. Tests that detect several types of HPV DNA in cells scraped from the cervix are available and might be useful in the triage of women with atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance (ASC-US) or in screening women aged ≥30 years in conjunction with the Pap test (see Cervical Cancer Screening for Women Who Attend STD Clinics or Have a History of of STDs). Women determined to have HPV infection on such testing should be counseled that HPV infection is common, infection is frequently transmitted between partners, and that infection usually goes away on its own. If any Pap test or biopsy abnormalities have been observed, further evaluation is recommended. Screening women or men with the HPV test, outside of the above recommendations for use of the test with cervical cancer screening, is not recommended.
In the absence of genital warts or cervical SIL, treatment is not recommended
for subclinical genital HPV infection, whether it is diagnosed by colposcopy,
biopsy, acetic acid application, or through the detection of HPV by laboratory
tests. Genital HPV infection frequently goes away on its own, and no therapy
has been identified that can eradicate infection. In the presence of coexistent
SIL, management should be based on histopathologic findings.