HPV vs Herpes: Similaries & differences

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HPV vs Herpes: Similaries & differences



Written by Hannah Kingston on August 2nd, 2021

HPV and herpes both fall under the category of “viral sexually transmitted diseases” but you may be interested in some more of the similarities and differences that can be found between HPV and herpes. 

Read on to learn more about the similarities and differences between HPV and herpes. 

HPV vs Herpes 

Similarities between HPV vs Herpes

Both HPV and herpes are classified as viral sexually transmitted diseases. 

Both HPV and herpes may cause genital lesions. 

Both HPV and herpes may be passed through intimate skin-to-skin contact. 

If you are diagnosed with HPV or herpes, you need to speak with your doctor about the best ways to keep you and your sexual partners safe. 

Differences between HPV vs Herpes

HPV is caused by a family of viruses called the human papillomavirus. Herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus. 

HPV may clear on its own without treatment. There is no cure for herpes. 

HPV if detected needs to be monitored for any abnormal cell changes. Herpes can be managed with anti-viral medications. 

HPV may cause genital warts and cancer. Herpes does not cause cancer.

The symptoms of HPV if they do appear are warts. The symptoms of herpes if they do appear are pain, itching, red bumps, white blisters, ulcers, scabs.

Getting vaccinated against HPV is the best way protection against the virus. There is no preventative vaccination for herpes. 

How do you get HPV and herpes?

You may get HPV and herpes through: 

  • Intimate skin to skin contact 
  • Oral sex
  • Vaginal sex
  • Anal sex
  • Congentially (from mother to child)

Below is an easy to understand infographic on how sexually transmitted diseases are spread. Take a screenshot to help you stay in the know! 


How do you prevent HPV and herpes? 

There are a number of things that you can do to limit your risk of getting HPV and herpes including: 

  • Always using protection 
  • Getting vaccinated for HPV
  • Getting a sexual health screening at least once a year
  • Having open conversations with your sexual partner(s)
  • Limiting your number of sexual partners (recommended by the CDC)


HPV symptoms 

  • Genital warts: These generally appear in the genital area as flat lesions, tiny protrusions, or small cauliflower-like bumps. In the case of women, most locate in the vulva, but can also occur near the anus, as well as in the cervix or vagina.
  • Plantar warts: Plantar warts usually appear on the balls of the feet causing discomfort.
  • Cancer: Different types of cancer are caused by HPV, in the case of cervical cancer, at least 91% are caused by HPV. Other types of cancers in the genital area or nearby are alco caused in their majority by HPV, as it is the case with cancer in the vagina (75%), vulva (69%), penis (63%), anus (91%) and oropharynx (89%) with an estimated total of 36,000 cases per year.

Read: Everything you need to know about HPV 

Herpes symptoms

  • A burning or tingling sensation where the blister may develop 
  • Pain where the blister may develop 
  • The appearance of a blistering sore (this may develop in the mouth or on the genitals)
  • Itching around the mouth or genitals 
  • Pain during urination (genital herpes) 
  • Ulcers, which may be followed by scabs while the ulcers heal
  • Flu-like symptoms (fever, tiredness, swollen lymph nodes, headaches, tiredness, lack of appetite. 
  • Anal and perianal infections (more commonly in the MSM populations).

Read:  Herpes symptoms: What are the symptoms of herpes?


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