HPV is a group of more than 200 related viruses, some of which are spread through vaginal, anal, oral sex and other intimate forms of skin-to-skin contact.
HPV types fall into two groups, low risk and high risk. Low-risk HPVs mostly cause no disease. However, a few low-risk HPV types can cause warts on or around the genitals, anus, mouth, or throat. These are the infections that your immune system usually controls so they don’t cause cancer.
High-risk HPV infections that persist can cause cancer. Sometimes HPV infections are not successfully controlled by your immune system. When a high-risk HPV infection persists for many years, it can lead to cell changes that, if untreated, may get worse over time and become cancer.