What is Genital Warts? (HPV)

Genital warts, also known as human papilloma virus (HPV) is a germ that is spread through having sex without a condom with an infected person. It is considered a sexually transmissible infection (STI).


Genital warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV).  Many people have HPV without symptoms, but some people experience warts on their vagina walls, anus, penis, lips and many other areas of their body.

Why you need to see a doctor if you have been at risk of HPV

HPV is very common and most people who have had sex have HPV.  HPV can cause genital warts which can be uncomfortable for some people.  HPV can also cause changes in cells which may lead to cancer.


HPV can be spread through genital contact without penetrative sex, so it is important to use a condom or dam and lubricant during other sexual activities as well as during vaginal, anal and oral sex, to reduce the risk of getting HPV. There is also a vaccine (injected medicine) that the doctor can provide to prevent infection in some people. Speak to your doctor for more information.


If you have had sex without a condom, you may be at risk of HPV or other STIs.  You should go to a doctor to be tested.  If you have visible warts the doctor can diagnose genital warts from seeing them. Women should have a pap test every 2 years, even if they have no symptoms.  Pap tests look for changes in cells that may lead to cancer.  If the doctor picks up these cell changes early, they can be treated.


Visible genital warts can be treated in different ways, including using creams, freezing or laser.  Your doctor will decide the best option for you.  HPV cannot be cured, so the warts may return.

For more information

Talk to your doctor or local health clinic.

Related Information

Assess your individual cultural competence

The Centre for Culture Ethnicity and Health (CEH) has developed the Cultural Competence Reflection Tool (CCRT). CCRT is an online resource that is designed to gauge individual workers’ cultural competence across several domains. The domains include: attitudes and...

read more

Better Services with Trauma Informed Care

Five million Australians, out of a total population of 22.6 million, have experienced complex trauma. But you can’t tell by looking at them who has experienced trauma and most won’t come out and say it until they trust you.

read more