What is it?

Genital and anal warts are caused by certain types of HPV (Human Papillomavirus).

How do I get it?

HPV is transmitted by skin-to-skin contact, including oral and anal sex. HPV may be transmitted even when there are no visible warts present.

Can HPV be prevented?

One of the best ways to protect yourself from HPV infection is to get the vaccine.

Steve Retson Project offer the HPV vaccine at our clinics. It protects against four types of HPV (types 6, 11, 16 and 18) that can cause cancer and genital warts.

The vaccine is a course of three injections over 4 to 12 months if you are 15 to 45 years old. Those under the age of 15 only need two doses (six months apart).

To get the best protection, it's important you get all three doses. To find out more about the HPV vaccine click here.

What symptoms or signs might I notice?

Visible warts are small growths, often rough or rubbery to the touch. These occur around the penis, testicles and anus, and are often painless. Warts can appear weeks, months or even years after infection with HPV.

How will I be tested?

A Doctor or a nurse will usually make a diagnosis after examining you. Sometimes a biopsy might be taken to help make a diagnosis.

How will I be treated?

Treatment for genital warts depends on the type of warts you have and where they are located. You do not need treatment if there are no visible warts.

There are two main types of treatment for genital warts:

  • applying a cream, lotion or chemicals to the warts (topical treatment) 
  • destroying the tissue of the warts by freezing, heating or removing them (physical ablation) 

What about HPV & Cancer?

Some strains of this virus have been associated with abnormal cell changes on the penis or anus, as well as the mouth and throat, with a few strongly associated with cancer. These are the same strains of HPV that are associated with cervical cancer in women. This association seems to increase with other factors, one of which is smoking.

Visible warts are less likely to lead to cell changes that precede cancer. The strains that are linked to abnormal changes usually cause infections without visible symptoms.

Men who have sex with men are much more likely to develop abnormal cell changes and cancer than other men, and it is even more likely for HIV-positive men.

Speak to your doctor about any changes or if you are concerned about anything.

How can I avoid genital and anal warts?

Using condoms every time you have anal sex is an effective way to avoid getting genital warts. If you are under 45 years old please ask us about the HPV vaccine when you are at the clinic.

However, the protection offered by condoms is not 100%. Genital warts are the result of a viral skin infection. Because HPV is spread by skin-to-skin contact, it is possible for the skin around your genital area not covered by the condom to become infected. 

What if I’m HIV-positive?

Genital and anal warts may respond more slowly to topical treatment in an HIV positive person. 

Clearance of HPV appears to be slower or less likely among people who are HIV-positive.

Where can I get help?

If you think you might have genital or anal warts, get a check up at an SRP Clinic. Click on the services link for check up options.