Current Update on the Treatment of Genital Warts

Valerie R Yanofsky; Rita V Linkner; David Pompei; Gary Goldenberg


Expert Rev Dermatol. 2013;8(3):321-332. 

In This Article


Both the incidence and the prevalence of HPV infection have steadily been increasing in the past 35 years. Current estimates suggest that as many as 20 million Americans may be infected, with approximately 5.5 million new infections being reported in the USA each year.[1,9] With the risk of contracting HPV decreasing sharply with age, nearly half of new infections are seen in young adults between the ages of 15 and 24 years.[10] In fact, it has been estimated that anywhere between 75 and 80% of sexually active adults will acquire a genital tract HPV infection before the age of 50 years.[11] This rising trend of HPV reported in the young population can be attributed to both a decreasing age of initial sexual contact, as well as an increased number of sexual partners.

HPV is highly contagious and transmitted primarily through sexual intercourse, although oral and anal sexual contact have also been implicated. In very rare circumstances, vertical transmission and autoinoculation can contribute to the spread of disease.[12] Following sexual contact with an HPV-infected individual, the risk of contracting the virus and further developing viral-related complications such as EGW is thought to be approximately 75%. This high transmission rate results in a 50% lifetime risk of acquiring EGW for individuals who are sexually active with no additional risk factors.[2] Rates may be higher still in individuals who consistently engage in unprotected sexual intercourse, use oral contraceptives alone as protection, have a history of sexually transmitted infections or are immunosuppressed.[13,14]