What is HPV?

HPV stands for human papilloma virus. This is a virus that can cause skin warts (plantar warts on the feet), anogenital warts (condylomas) and some forms of cancer.

There are more than 100 different HPV subtypes, some of which are high-risk types with a high potential for change and others are low-risk types with a low cancer-causing potential.

About 12 HPV types belong to high-risk types. They can cause precancerous lesions and cancer in the genital, anal and throat areas.

It is estimated that more than 80% of sexually active adults contract an HPV infection at least once in their lifetime.

This makes HPV the most common sexually transmitted infection… all the more reason to get informed and protect yourself!

How is HPV transmitted?

HPV is transmitted through oral, vaginal or anal sex.

However, infection can also occur through contact with the skin or mucous membranes of an infected person.

Therefore, condoms reduce the risk of transmission, but cannot eliminate it completely.

Human papilloma viruses are so highly contagious that even consistent safe sex does not offer complete protection against infection… one more reason to get vaccinated!

What are the effects of HPV infection?

In most cases, after infection with HPV, the body is able to eliminate the virus on its own within 6 to 18 months. However, this requires an intact immune system.

Sometimes the infection with a disease-causing HPV subtype persists, which can lead to genital warts and in the worst case even to cervical cancer and other types of cancer.

Often, an infection with HPV remains completely unnoticed for several months or even years, as there are usually no symptoms.

The infected person therefore usually transmits the virus to their partner unnoticed… all the more important to protect yourself from this unexpected danger and to be aware of the risks!

… because the effects of an HPV infection can be unpleasant and even dangerous!

Genital warts

unpleasant but harmless

Genital warts (condylomas) are most often caused by HPV low-risk types 6 and 11.

These are small raspberry-like nodules that can grow into cauliflower-like growths if left untreated.

Although they are not dangerous to health, they are unpleasant and take a long time to treat. However, they do not degenerate into cancer.

In most cases, condylomas do not disappear by themselves, but have to be removed by means of ointments, laser treatments, cryotherapy or surgery

Cervical cancer

long unnoticed but quickly dangerous

If the HPV infection is not successfully fought by the body within two years and persists, it can lead from a few months to years to develop into precancerous lesions and ultimately to cervical cancer (cervical carcinoma).

In studies, human papilloma virus DNA could be detected in 99.7% of all cervical carcinomas. The connection between an existing infection with certain HPV high-risk types and the risk of developing cervical carcinoma has been scientifically proven many times.

If detected early, precancerous lesions can be treated before cervical cancer develops.

It is therefore very important to have your annual gynaecological check-up.

Your gynaecologist will take a Pap smear from the cervix to detect and treat such precancerous lesions in time.

Other possible HPV associated cancers

The most common cancer caused by HPV is cervical cancer.

The other cancers are less common, but can also affect men.

HPV infection in the anal area can lead to anal cancer.

HPV infection in the mouth and throat can lead to mouth and throat cancer.

Historisches Kaleidoskop

1984 gelang dem deutschen Arzt Prof. Harald zur Hausen nach jahrelanger Forschung der Nachweis von humanen Papillomaviren in Tumorzellen von Frauen mit Gebärmutterhalskrebs.

Die neue und bahnbrechende Entdeckung, dass Papillomaviren Krebs verursachen, brachte ihm 2008 den Nobelpreis für Medizin ein.

Die Pharmaindustrie entwickelte daraufhin nach Jahren der Forschung einen HPV-Impfstoff, und 2006 wurde die erste Vakzine in der Schweiz zugelassen.

2019 löste ein noch weiter entwickelter Impfstoff den ersten ab, welcher 9 HPV-Typen deckt ab und ist somit noch wirksamer.

Attention boys

we need your support!

It is not enough to vaccinate only girls! Boys should also be vaccinated to achieve sufficient herd immunity.

HPV vaccination of boys leads to a decrease of HPV in the overall population and the risk of infection decreases for everyone.

Why should you get vaccinated too?


  • protects you from genital warts.
  • protects you from HPV-associated cancers in the genital area as well as anal, oral and pharyngeal cancers.
  • also protects your sexual partner.
  • is important because condoms do not provide sufficient protection against HPV infection.