Here we give you an understanding about what HPV (Human Papillomavirus) and Genital Warts are and discuss the different strains of HPV. We examine the symptoms and how it can be contracted. We will also recommend the best testing options and compare HPV statistics in the Middle East with other regions.

What is HPV and Genital Warts?

HPV is a common family of viruses some of which can be sexually transmitted. Some types of the virus can cause Genital Warts and others can lead to cervical cancer, head and neck cancer and cancer of the rectum, anus, and penis. It can also cause throat and oesophageal cancer.

There are more than 140 types of HPV viruses, and some pose more of a risk than others. Each HPV virus has its own number or type. About 60 of the HPV types cause warts on your hands or feet and 40 enter the body during sexual contact. There is no cure for the HPV virus itself only treatments for health problems that HPV causes and vaccinations to protect against potential HPV infection.

High and low risk strains of HPV

High-risk HPV strains include HPV 16 and 18, which cause about 70% of cervical cancers. Other high-risk HPV strains include 31, 33, 45, 52, 58 and a few others. Low-risk strains such as HPV 6 and 11, cause about 90% of genital warts.

What are the Symptoms of HPV infection?

HPV infections often cause no symptoms, and many people never know they are infected with HPV. If you do have symptoms, they can include:

  • Genital warts. These are flat spots or raised bumps. In women they normally grow in the vulva but can also be found on the anus, cervix, and vagina. Men get them on their penis, scrotum, or anus
  • Plantar warts. These are hard, grainy, and painful bumps that affect the bottom of your feet
  • Flat warts. These are raised spots with a flat top which can be found anywhere but mainly on the face and legs

During pregnancy, Genital Warts may increase in size and become an obstacle during birth.

How can you get HPV and Genital Warts?

You can contract HPV and Genital Warts through the following ways:

  • It can enter your body through a cut, scrape, or tear in your skin
  • Skin-to-skin contact or vaginal, anal, oral, or genital contact
  • You can pass HPV to your baby if you have genital warts when you are pregnant
  • The warts are contagious. You can get them by touching someone else´s wart or even touching a surface that came into contact with one

What are the best testing options for HPV and Genital Warts?

It is recommended that women have a combined PAP smear and HPV test for their cervical health. For men, the standard HPV test is a swab of a visible wart or lesion.

How do the HPV statistics in Arab countries compare with other regions?

A study published by Future Medicine on 1 September 2020 evaluated the prevalence of HPV and its high-risk genotypes in Middle Eastern countries. It compared the Middle East with other regions and was based on data from 2005 to 2018.

HPV statistics in Arab countries

The prevalence of HPV in Africa and Egypt at 22% is considerably higher than other regions. The study concluded that the prevalence of HPV in the Middle East had increased and commented that there was a “need for public education, screening and vaccination programs”.

This highlights how necessary it is to have early and regular testing, diagnosis and treatment for HPV and Genital Warts.

STI and HIV testing in the Middle East with Better2Know

Better2Know is the leading global provider of sexual health testing. Our Middle East clinics provide testing for a wide range of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). We offer HPV and Genital Warts Tests for women and men along with Genital Warts Treatment. The Genital Warts Treatment “freezes” the wart and is called Cryotherapy.

Better2Know can do a PAP Smear Test and Female Swab Test for women. However, we recommend a Comprehensive Cervical Screen which combines a PAP Smear Test and HPV Test and will give you peace of mind about your cervical health.

We test for individual STIs including Syphilis, Gonorrhoea, Chlamydia and more. You can choose a comprehensive sexual health screen such as our Peace of Mind Screen which tests for Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea and Syphilis. Our Platinum Screen can you give you an overall perspective of your sexual health and tests for HIV I/II and the p24 antigen, Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Ureaplasma, Mycoplasma, Trichomonas and Herpes I/II.

Book your STI test or screen

All Better2Know’s tests, screens and services in the Middle East are performed in line with national regulations. To book your test or screen online, click the Book Now button at the top of the page and follow the instructions. Alternatively, you can telephone our highly trained and helpful Patient Services team 24 hours, 7 days a week on the telephone number displayed above.


[1] HPV and its high-risk genotypes in Middle Eastern countries: a meta-analysis

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