What is HPV?
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a viral infection that’s passed between people through skin-to-skin contact.
Often, HPV infection doesn’t cause any noticeable symptoms or health problems, with most infections going away on their own within two years, according to the CDC. However, because the virus is still in a person’s body during this time, that person may unknowingly transmit HPV.
Why is vaccination against HPV important?
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). It’s so common that most sexually active people will get some variety of it at some point, even if they have few sexual partners.
Nearly all non-vaccinated individuals, male or female, will be infected by HPV at some point during their adult life.
Certain types of HPV can also infect the cervix (the lower part of the womb), vagina and vulva. In most cases, the body’s immune system can fight off the infection and clear the virus. However, the HPV infection can sometimes persist and cause abnormal changes to the cells, which develop into cervical cancer. HPV subtypes 16 and 18 account for about 70 percent of cervical cancer cases.
Who should get the HPV vaccination?
The HPV vaccine produces the strongest immune response in preteens. To work best, the HPV vaccines should be given between the ages of 9 to 12. The vaccines are given in three doses.
- Girls and boys should get 2 doses of the HPV vaccine between the ages of 9 to 12.
- Teens and adults aged 13 through 45 who have not been vaccinated, or who haven’t gotten all their doses, should get the vaccine as soon as possible.
Vaccination of young adults will not prevent as many cancers as vaccination of children and teens, as research shows that younger people have a better immune response to the vaccine than those in their late teens and early 20s. And, the vaccines will prevent the covered types of HPV only if they are given before exposure to the virus.
Can I still get the HPV vaccination as an adult?
The Gardasil 9 HPV vaccine is indicated for both males and females from 9 to 45 years of age.
Older patients may still benefit from vaccination, though there is a higher probability that they have already contracted the virus, rendering the vaccine redundant.
The vaccines are most effective if given before one’s first sexual exposure, and yet to be exposed to the HPV types covered by the vaccine. Those who are sexually active may still benefit from the vaccine, as they may not have yet been exposed to the HPV subtypes covered by the vaccine. They should speak to their doctor to determine if they are suitable for vaccination.
Should men get HPV vaccine too?
Click here to find out more.
HPV vaccinations are available at our clinics: