Venereal warts, genital warts, condylomata acuminata or condyloma are all names for one strain of warts, commonly known as genital warts. Condyloma is a variation of an HPV infection that can be found in more than 100 different versions. It has been established that about 40 different strains of HPV can affect the genitals. There are some generic variants. They can appear slightly different and be more or less persistent to treatment, these differences also depend on the infected person’s immune system. Most cases of genital warts are caused by two different types of HPV (HPV-6 and HPV-11).
Genital warts up close
About getting infected
Most patients with genital warts are in the age range 17-33 years. Genital warts are highly contagious. The risk of being infected by the skin infection during one single sexual contact with an individual infected by condyloma is about 60%. Upon infection the virus often penetrates the skin through microscopic cracks in the surface of mucous membranes in the genital area – and nothing more happens. It often takes months or even years before the first symptoms of the infection appears. This makes determining who infected you and when you were infected very hard. Unfortunately, it is possible to contract condyloma through shared toilet seats, saunas and by borrowing used underwear. It is important to take some precautions around persons known to be infected.
Correlation with cervical cancer
About 90% of all genital warts are caused by two specific types of the virus (HPV-6 and -11). These types of HPV are regarded as “low risk”, meaning that they have a low potential for triggering cancer. Other types of HPV infections are known to cause cell changes and cervical cancer in women. HPV-16 is one of the high risk viruses said to be responsible for about 50% of cervical cancer cases. The HPV types known as 16, 18, 31 and 45 are other “high risk” types of HPV. One collective name for HPV causing cancer is oncogenic HPV. Based on what is known it seems that oncogenic HPV causes the majority of cases of cervical cancer.