HPV lives and multiplies only on humans. On an infected person, HPV is found on the surface of infected epithelia (usually in the genital organs and perianal area).
The epithelia most commonly infected are those that sustain more friction during sexual contact.
HPV is primarily transmitted from one person to another through genital skin - to genital skin sexual contact. Vaginal or anal intercourse are the main ways of transmission.
However, any type of friction with an individual's infected skin or mucous membranes can lead to transmission of the virus to another person. It is not necessary to have penetration during sexual intercourse to transmit the virus.
HPV can also be transmitted through oral-genital contact, friction with infected fingers (mutual masturbation) or shared use of sex toys.
There is no evidence that contaminated toilet seats, doorknobs, towels, soaps, swimming pools or hot tubs can transmit genital HPVs. However, some unexplained cases of HPV lesions do occur and one should never rule out the possibility that an HPV infection may have been transmitted in a non-sexual event.
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