14/02/2011 10:33 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

What's Not Romantic This Valentine's Day?

love-hearts-romance-STIs Romance and genital warts don't exactly mix. Photo: Corbis

Lovers all over the UK may well be gearing up for a serious night of passion this Valentine's Day evening, but British sexual health experts have waded in to cool our mood with a warning about genital warts.

Not very romantic, you may think. And you'd be right. Genital warts are the most common viral sexually transmitted infection in the UK and caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is passed on during sex. And while most people get them in the obvious areas, they can also develop on your mouth, lips or throat if you have oral sex with someone who has the virus.

According to the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH), cases of genital warts have risen by a third in this country during the last ten years (in case you were wondering Hammersmith and Fulham, Brighton, Newcastle, Liverpool and Blackpool are the places where the most people have them).

Yet a vaccine that protects against the infection has been available since 2007. The vaccine, however, isn't yet available on the NHS. But the BASHH experts are calling for more people to have it - including teenage school girls who are currently being vaccinated against the HPV virus that causes cervical cancer.

The vaccine in use in schools right now protects against cervical cancer but not genital warts, but the BASHH doctors hope to persuade politicians that a combined vaccine should be used.

The combined vaccine is admittedly more expensive, but it could help save some of the £50 million that's thought to be spent on treating genital warts and related illnesses every year in this country.

Do you think switching to the combined vaccine makes sense?

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