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What is HPV?

The following information is found in the HPV and Cancer booklet © American Cancer Society, Inc.  April 2016

HPV is short for human papilloma (pap-uh-LO-muh) virus.  HPVs are a large group of related viruses.  Each HPV virus in the group is given a number, which is called an HPV type.

Most HPV types cause warts on skin of the arms, chest, hands, and feet.  Other types are found only on the body’s mucous membranes.  Mucous membranes are the moist surface layers that line organs and parts of the body that open to the outside, such as the vagina, anus, mouth, and throat.  The HPV types found on mucous membranes do not live on the skin.  They’re sometimes called genital HPV.

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