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Health information from the US National Library of Medicine.
Family Planning provides a range of services including sexual and reproductive health information and clinical services.
- Sexually transmitted infections – where to get help
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Genital warts (HPV)
Genital warts are small lumps that usually grow in and around the genitals. They can be a range of shapes and sizes and can resemble a flat or lumpy wart, a cauliflower-like growth, or may be so small that they are not visible by the naked eye.
Genital warts are caused by a virus called human papillomavirus (HPV) and are spread through skin-on-skin contact with someone who has HPV. The virus can also be passed on to a baby when a woman with HPV gives birth.
Many people can have the HPV virus but have no symptoms. If you have the virus, but have no symptoms, you can still spread the virus through skin contact.
About the virus
In New Zealand (without HPV vaccination), 160 women are diagnosed with and 50 women die from cervical cancer.
There are many types of HPV. Some high-risk types of HPV may lead to chronic genital infection and, years later, to cancer of the cervix. The HPV vaccine Gardasil® protects against the most common types of HPV that cause cervical cancer and genital warts:
- HPV types 16 and 18, which cause around 70 percent of all cervical cancers
- HPV types 6 and 11, which cause around 90 percent of genital warts.
There is a range of treatments available that work well, including freezing or burning the warts, applying creams or liquids, laser treatment and surgery. Because genital warts are caused by a virus, the treatments will cure the warts, but not get rid of the virus. The warts may appear again in the future.
For more information and advice about treatment please visit a health specialist. Any of the options below will be able to help you.
- Family Planning centre
- School nurse
- Your doctor
All girls in New Zealand can be immunised against HPV, the virus that causes genital warts, as part of their free childhood immunisations at twelve years old. They need three doses for complete protection – these are given on a 0, 2 and 6 month vaccination schedule.
Girls and young women up to the age of 20 are eligible to participate in New Zealand’s HPV immunisation programme for free.
To protect girls from HPV, it’s important they’re vaccinated before they come into contact with the virus. That is, before they become sexually active.
The Gardasil® vaccine is also licensed for women up to the age of 45 years and boys aged 9–15 years. Talk to your doctor if you are interested in getting immunised. Three doses will cost about $500.00.
The vaccine called Gardasil® is included in the New Zealand Immunisation Schedule.
Making a decision about immunisation
Risks associated with HPV infection
- Chronic infection with HPV 16 and 18 and other high-risk types lead to an abnormal cervical smear test and if not treated can lead to cervical cancer.
- HPV types 16 and 18 cause around 70 percent of cervical cancers.
- In New Zealand (without HPV vaccination), 160 women are diagnosed with and about 50 women die from cervical cancer.
Risks associated with the vaccine
- No severe side effects were seen in large clinical trials.
- The HPV immunisation section has further information about the vaccine.
Immunisation is your choice. If you have questions, talk to your doctor or practice nurse or call the Immunisation Advisory Centre free helpline 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863).
Find out more from the Ministry
HPV immunisation programme – Information about the HPV immunisation programme and HPV vaccine, including Q&As.