What is it?
GW or samuna is caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in Fiji. There are over 100 different types of HPV (wart virus) that cause infection on the skins surface.
HPV and genital warts affect both males and females. Some types cause warts on the feet or hands, and other types cause warts on the genitals (around the bum, penis or vagina).
If not treated, HPV can lead to cancer such as cervical and anogenital cancer.
How is it spread?
HPV is usually spread by skin-to-skin contact, or during vaginal or anal sex without the correct use of a condom.
- Vaginal sex (penis – vagina)
- Anal Sex (penis – anus)
- Oral sex (mouth/tongue – vagina/penis/anus)
Always use a condom with water-based lubricant to avoid getting HPV. Condoms can provide some protection if they cover the area of the warts. However, the virus may be present on other areas not covered by the condom, and so you can still get infected.
What do Genital Warts look like?
Because of the large number of varieties of HPV, genital warts can look quite different from person to person
- They are often lumps or bumps on your skin/genitals
- They may be raised or flat;
- Small or large;
- One or many, and some may cluster together in a cauliflower-like shape
- They are not always visible to the naked eye; they may be inside the vagina or anus.
Sometimes however, the virus does not cause any visible warts and many people do not know they have it.
The most common cancer caused by HPV is cervical cancer (the neck of the womb in women). Cervical cancer is the 2nd most common cancer in Fiji. This is why it is very important that all women who have ever had sex have regular pap smears (every two years, or more often if you have an abnormal result). A pap smear can detect changes in the cervix that might suggest infection with HPV that could lead to cancer.
HPV can also cause cancers of the head and throat.
There is currently an immunisation available for girls in Class 8 in Fiji that protects them from HPV. The course requires 3 injections over the course of 7 months and is free. To learn more, visit our immunisation section.
How do I know if I am infected?
You should go to the doctor for a check up if;
- You notice any unusual growths, bumps, or skin changes that appear around the penis, vagina, anus, testicles (balls), groin or thigh.
- You notice growths that are painless and flesh coloured
- You notice any unusual itching, pain or bleeding (usually warts are painless however)
- Your sex partners(s) tells you that he/she has genital warts
- You have an abnormal Pap Smear result (for women only)
How is it treated?
- An ointment or treatment cream may be applied to the warts.
- Other treatments may be required and can be discussed with your doctor or sexual health nurse.
- Treatment often takes several applications or visits to your doctor/clinic and may require a variety of approaches. It is important to be patient and persist with treatment
- Warts can sometimes disappear as a result of your body’s own defenses. This is more likely if you eat a healthy diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, have adequate sleep and generally live a healthy lifestyle.
If you have HPV it is your responsibility to let all your sexual partners from at least the past six months know so that they can be tested and treated if needed
If you are a female who has had sex, you should get a pap smear from your doctor every two years.
Though treatment can take some time, you should commit to fully treating your genital warts.
How do I protect myself from genital warts?
There are many steps you can take to reduce your risk of genital warts;
- Not having sex at all prevents you from all sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Using a condom each and every time you have sex, from start to finish can greatly reduce your chances if infection. Remember, the condom only offers protection if it covers the infected area(s).
- Always use condoms every time you have sex, and only use water-based lubricants (available from pharmacies).
- Being faithful to one sexual partner who is faithful to you reduces your risk.
- Practicing non-penetrative sex, such as mutual masturbation, cuddling, kissing and massage are very safe.
- If you are sexually active, you should have regular medical check ups.
Using a condom
When using a condom, it is important to ensure you use it correctly for it to offer proper protection. You should;
- Open the packet carefully so that you don’t tear the condom.
- Pinch the tip of the condom before carefully rolling it down the entire shaft of the erect penis.
- Do not use spit, Vaseline, baby oil or other oil-based lubricants.
- Use water-based lubricants, such as KY or Wet Stuff. (Available in Pharmacies)
- Withdraw the penis before the erection is lost, so that the condom does not fall off. Hold the base of the condom to prevent spills.
- Store condoms in a cool, dry place and check the expiry date before using.
- Condoms should only be used once. A new one should be used each time you have sex.
I want to know more
You can find out more from the following places;
Northern Reproductive Health Clinic
‘Our Spot’ ( Northern Hub Center)
Ratu Raobe Building,
P: 881 2525
Naviti Street Sexual and Reproductive Health Clinic (Western Hub Centre)
P: 664 0243
Reproductive Health Clinic (Suva Hub)
P: 331 9144
STI Clinic/Adolescent Health Development (AHD) Program (‘Our Place’)
Rodwell Rd, (Old Government Pharmacy),
Medical Services Pacific,
Any Government Health Centre. You can locate your nearest centre here