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Last Updated on May 11, 2023

HPV vs Herpes: Introduction

HPV vs Herpes: Human papillomavirus (HPV) and herpes, enclosed of different genetic makeup, are sexually transmitted viruses producing lesions around the mouth or genitals. It spreads by skin-to-skin contact or oral sex. In a few instances, they are often confused with being the same since both the conditions’ major symptoms include sexually transmitted genital lesions.

So, is HPV herpes? The truth is they are two different and unrelated viruses. Resultantly, they both manifest as discrete symptoms and require the use of potential treatment options. Participating in clinical trials investigating novel potential therapies to ease HPV vs herpes struggle is an option most people don’t explore.

Get to know what is HPV vs herpes and gain a better understanding about what is the difference between HPV and herpes, is HPV herpes the same thing, and what is worse HPV or herpes.

How Common Is HPV Herpes?

Genital HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 42 million Americans are infected with HPV, and around 13 million new cases occur every year.

Herpes is the most common cause of genital ulceration in the United States. Approximately 50 million Americans have genital herpes caused by HSV-2.

What is HPV vs Herpes?

HPV is caused by the human papillomavirus, while herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are more than 100 variants of HPV and only two subtypes of Herpes (HSV-1 & HSV-2). HSV-1 usually produces prodromal symptoms involving pain, burning, and tingling sensations followed by cold sores around the mouth and lips. This can lead to genital lesions through oral sex. The presence of cold sores around the lips is a predominant hallmark of HSV-1. Statistically, HSV-1 is known to affect 3.7 billion people globally. HSV-2, on the other hand, is usually responsible for causing genital herpes.

How Does HPV vs Herpes Spread?

HPV vs herpes both transmit via vaginal, anal, and oral sex. It is known as one of the most contagious viruses. Therefore, individuals with either of these infections involving skin lesions are highly contagious. In such circumstances, protective measures are the key to staying safe.

Is HPV herpes? Unlike HPV, herpes (HSV-1) primarily spreads through saliva (oral secretions) while kissing or sharing drinks. In addition, herpes spreads via contact with herpes lesions, mucosal surfaces, and genital secretions. Contrary to this, one does have to worry about spreading the virus through contact with HPV.

Unfortunately, HPV vs herpes (both) can pass on from a pregnant mother to the baby during pregnancy or delivery. In case of suspicion, one should speak to a professional medical team so that they can combat the risk of transmission.

Is HPV herpes? Similarities vs Differences

In terms of the similarities HPV vs herpes share, often the question arises, is herpes the same thing as HPV? The answer is discussed in detail below:

  • Herpes and HPV are STIs (sexually transmitted infections) — that can be acquired through intimate contact with a partner who has either of these.
  • Both of them result in unsightly warts or lesions on the genitalia.
  • Both of them have the ability to lie dormant in the body for a while before resurfacing and causing recurring clinically significant outbreaks.

Apart from similarities, there are several key differences between the two in terms of infections, treatment, vaccination, and health outcome:

  • Type of infection:

    Herpes produces painful sores or blisters on the vaginal or oral areas, while HPV commonly results in genital warts.

  • Treatment variability:

    There is no definite treatment to eradicate HPV herpes, but potential treatment options exist. Antiviral drugs lessen the severity and frequency of Herpes outbreaks. HPV, on the other hand, can be treated with topical creams, cryotherapy, or surgery.

  • Vaccination:

    Vaccination plays an essential role in preventing the spread of infectious diseases. While there is no vaccine for herpes, vaccinations are readily available for HPV infections.

  • Health outcome:

    In general, both infections cause slight discomfort. HPV is more strongly associated with an increased risk of developing certain cancers, particularly cervical cancer. While herpes is not typically linked to cancer.

What Are the Symptoms of HPV vs Herpes?

HPV and herpes bear the potential to lie dormant in the body for long periods causing no symptoms at all. However, their active state produces clinically significant signs and symptoms. The most recognizable symptoms indicative of HPV vs herpes are:

  • With HPV, wart-like lesions called ‘genital warts’ with a distinctive cauliflower appearance are common. Additional characteristic features include small or large, raised or flat warty appearance.
  • The presence of genital lesions is the primary and most noticeable symptom during an outbreak of HPV.
  • In herpes, pimple-like lesions or blisters filled with fluid break open forming ulcers. These lesions are typically itchy or painful, so people having a herpes outbreak tend to feel more uncomfortable than people with HPV.

Individuals with herpes often experience severe symptoms and a greater sense of illness. Other symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Run-down or flu-like symptoms
  • Pain in the legs and lower back
  • Unpleasant vaginal discharge in women with genital herpes
  • Painful micturition with genital herpes

Few variants of HPV can cause cancer in the genitals, cervix, anus, or throat. However, it is uncertain which individuals with HPV will develop cancer. To identify early changes, getting regular medical check-ups done is the key.

Revive Research Institute is investigating a diagnostic/screening tool for HPV and cervical cancer screening.

Visit the page to learn more:


Women aged 30 years or older are advised to get screened for cervical cancer. When receiving a pap test, aberrant findings may be malignant cells caused by HPV. Currently, there is no screening test for men. Both sexes should be physically examined to determine whether they have an active HPV infection.

In contrast, healthcare professionals often only test for herpes when a patient exhibits symptoms and clinically evident lesions. A herpes diagnosis is verified by swabbing the lesions and sending them for testing.

Preventative Approach Against HPVs vs Herpes?

HPV vaccination is a highly recommended preventative measure against sexually transmitted infections. Ideally, the vaccine should be administered before the onset of sexual activity (less than 11 or 12 years).

To prevent the transmission of HPV and herpes during sexual activity, using condoms is an effective preventative measure. Although they only offer protection for covered areas. It is crucial to be cautious if any uncovered lesions are present. In such circumstances, avoid touching the HPV or herpes lesions. If contact occurs, washing hands with soap and water can help reduce the risk of spreading the infection.

How Are Individuals with HPVs Or Herps Treated?

There is no definitive cure for HPV or herpes, although medications and preventive measures can help manage the symptoms.

  • The body’s natural immunity acts as the first line of defense. This helps fight off the HPV virus all on its own. Comparatively, herpes is slightly more stubborn and stays in the body.
  • Topical solutions and creams help reduce visible HPV warts for an improved appearance.
  • Stubborn warts might require cryotherapy or laser therapy.
  • Antiviral medications reduce the risk of herpes outbreaks and the severity of symptoms. Some of the most common medications prescribed for herpes include acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir.
  • Pain relievers, including paracetamol, Epsom salt baths, and ice packs applied to painful lesions also help.


Overall, every case of HPV vs herpes varies depending on the severity and outlook of symptoms. Practicing general measures, including safe sex, getting vaccinated, and seeking medical attention when necessary helps manage infections and promotes good health outcomes. Currently, there are not many treatment options for HPV vs herpes. This evokes the need for better and more advanced treatments. To advance medical research Revive Research Institute is investigating novel therapies to help millions of people struggling with vulnerable conditions including HPV.

Dr. Unzila Nadeem

Dr. Unzila Nadeem currently works as a Patient Recruitment Associate. With her combined experience as a dentist and her firm grip on research processes, she makes a valuable addition to our Patient Recruitment team.

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Revive Research Institute, Inc.

28270 Franklin Road
Southfield, MI

T: 248-564-1485