Two types of viral infections--herpes and human papillomavirus or HPV--can spread through sexual contact. Men and woman can contract herpes and HPV, and can pass it onto other people if they don't use proper protection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points says herpes always stays in patients' bodies, but 90 percent of HPV cases clear up without treatment within two years.
HPV and herpes have multiple types. Planned Parenthood says that more than 100 HPV strains exist, and about 40 types affect the genital regions. Of these 40 strains of HPV that affect genitalia, four are considered high-risk. Types 6 and 11 cause genital warts in men and women, and types 16 and 18 cause cervical cancer in women. With herpes, two different viruses exist: herpes simplex virus type 1 and herpes simplex virus type 2. Herpes simplex virus type 1 affects the mouth, and herpes simplex virus type 2 affects the genitals. But if herpes patients have mouth-to-genitalia contact, herpes simplex virus type 1 can affect the genitalia and herpes simplex virus type 2 can affect the mouth.
The prevalence of herpes and HPV differ. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that about one in six people between ages 14 and 49 have a herpes simplex virus type 2 infection. MedlinePlus says that herpes simplex virus type 1 infections are more common than herpes simplex virus type 2 infections. With HPV, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that about 20 million people have the virus, with 6 million new cases each year.
Each sexually transmitted disease causes different symptoms in patients. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that most people with HPV don't have symptoms. If patients do have symptoms, they may have genital warts, which are bumps on the genital regions. Some patients may develop cancer, such as cervical cancer. Men with high-risk HPV may get penile cancer. Planned Parenthood notes that patients with herpes have symptoms during outbreaks. Patients with oral herpes have cold sores, which are lesions on the mouth. With genital herpes, patients have sores on their anus, penis, vagina, vulva, cervix or buttocks.
Patients with either sexually transmitted disease need treatment. MedlinePlus says that doctors prescribe antiviral medications for herpes, available in pill form for genital herpes and creams for oral herpes. The antiviral medications work by speeding up the healing process of the sores. Some patients may take the medications throughout the year instead of during outbreaks to reduce how often and how severe the outbreaks are. Planned Parenthood notes that treatment for HPV involves the removal of abnormal cervical tissue changes, such as with cryosurgery, in which the doctor freezes off the tissue.
People can prevent contracting HPV and herpes by abstaining from sex or using a condom when having sex. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that for HPV, vaccines are available for the four high-risk HPV types. Women can receive the bivalent human papillomavirus recombinant vaccine for HPV types 16 and 18 or the quadrivalent human papillomavirus recombinant vaccine for HPV types 6,11,16 and 18. Men can receive the quadrivalent human papillomavirus recombinant vaccine. Men and women between ages 9 and 26 can get these vaccinations.