HPV stands for human papillomavirus. There are many strains of this virus. All of them tend to infect the skin or the moist inner surfaces like the vagina and cervix in women, or the throat and anus in men and women. Some strains cause cancer of the cervix and cancer of the head and neck. The most common condition caused by HPV infection is warts that affect various parts of the body.
There are no anti-viral drugs yet to treat HPV infections, although there have been some preliminary reports that one anti-viral drugcidofovirmay be helpful. Warts on the genitals and the anus in men are treated instead by repeatedly applying liquid treatments to the warts. Some of these remedies can be used by patients at home, while others are applied by the doctor or nurse. The medicines applied to the warts either kill the cells in the wart, or stimulate the immune system to attack and kill them.
Other treatments for warts include cutting them out (minor surgery), freezing them (cryotherapy) or "zapping" them with lasers or electrical therapy. These treatments kill the cells in the wart, while sparing any healthy cells nearby, and need to be done by a trained physician.
One way or another, genital HPV infections can almost always be successfully treated. The surest way of avoiding the infection in the first place is to practice safe sex.