What Are Genital Warts?

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Medically referred to as condyloma acuminata, genital warts are small, flesh-colored growths or tiny, cauliflower-like bumps located at the genital area. They may appear singly or in clusters. In males, the most common site is either the penis, near the anus, or the area between the penis and the scrotum. In females, they may grow either in the vaginal area or at the cervix.

Genital warts are caused the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) which is a common source of sexually transmitted infections (STI). Four types, namely, 6, 11, 16, and 18, are more closely associated with the condition. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 6.2 million cases are reported each year. Predisposition to cancer is likely- cervical cancer for women and cancer of the penis in men. Thus, early detection is essential so as to prevent development of complications.

The main mode of transmission is through oral, vaginal, or anal sex with someone who is infected. Genital warts may be so small that they are not visible to the naked eye. Furthermore, the virus has a very long incubation period, from four weeks to three months, and a person may already be infected without being aware of it. Not having a visible lesson does not necessarily mean that there is no infection .The  condition is highly contagious, therefore, it is very important to be vigilant in order to avoid spreading the disease to other persons.

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