The epidemiology, management and prevention of genital warts.
Genital warts are the most common viral sexually transmitted infection (STI) diagnosed in the UK. Genital warts are found on or around the penis, anus or vagina. Genital warts are largely caused by human papillomavirus (HPV).
More information on genital warts is available on NHS Choices.
HPV types associated with cancer are called oncogenic or ‘high risk’ types. HPV types that do not cause cancer are termed ‘low risk’. Two of these ‘low risk’ types cause the majority of genital warts.
HPV infections are extremely common in the sexually active population and are particularly common in the first few years after onset of sexual activity: most infections resolve without causing any symptoms.
Public Health England (PHE) routinely collects data on STIs (including genital warts) from genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics.
The Sexual and Reproductive Health Profiles are presented as interactive maps, charts, and tables designed to support local authorities, public health leads and other interested parties to monitor the sexual and reproductive health (SRH) of their population and the contribution of local public health related systems.
PHE also undertakes surveillance to inform the design, implementation and evaluation of HPV vaccination. This includes assessing the impact on:
- HPV infections among young women
- HPV infections among men who have sex with men (MSM)
- diagnoses of genital warts
- incidence of cervical disease
Diagnosis, management and treatment
The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV produces guidelines on diagnosis, management and treatment of genital warts.
HPV vaccines protect against the 2 high risk HPV types which cause the majority of cervical cancer. One vaccine also protects against the 2 low risk HPV types that cause the majority of genital warts. Both vaccines are prophylactic, meaning they should be given prior to HPV infection.
Cervical screening can detect changes in the cervix and cervical cancers at early asymptomatic stages when they can be successfully treated.