Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. It is the virus that causes genital warts, but it can also cause more serious health issues as you get older - like cancer.
Both girls and guys can get HPV from sexual contact, including vaginal, oral, and anal sex. Some strains are even found under the fingernails.
Most people infected with HPV don't know they have it because they don't notice any signs or problems. But the virus is still in their system and it could be causing damage. This means that people with HPV can pass the infection to you without knowing it.
If you are having sex, condoms offer some protection against HPV. But condoms can't completely prevent infections because hard-to-see warts can be outside the area covered by a condom, or on fingers, and the virus can be there even when a partner doesn't have warts. The only way to be completely sure about preventing HPV infections (and other STIs) is not to have sex.
Because HPV can cause problems a vaccine is an important step in preventing infection and protecting against the spread of HPV.
The HPV vaccine is recommended for anyone from age 11 upwards. It means you will be protected before ever being exposed to the virus. Keep an eye out for vaccination programmes or ask at your clinic or school if you can get this vaccination.