Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
What is it?
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus that can cause genital warts and cancers such as cervical cancer, anal cancer, and cancer in the back of the throat. There are more than 100 strains of HPV, but not all of them cause cancer.
Protection against HPV is important:
HPV is very common: approximately 80% of people who are sexually active will contract HPV in their lifetime.
Before the HPV vaccine, cervical cancer was the most common cause of cancer death in the US among women.
Since the vaccine, HPV infections from the types that cause the most cancer and genital warts have dropped 88% among young women.
This vaccine offers the best protection if it is given before any exposure to HPV.
This vaccine is listed on the immunization schedule for 11-12 year olds, but children can receive this vaccine as early as 9 years old. Getting vaccinated earlier is generally recommended in order to decrease the likelihood of prior exposure to HPV.
Children need two doses of this vaccine 6-12 months apart if they get vaccinated before they are 15. If they do not get vaccinated against HPV until they are 15 or older, they need to receive 3 doses.
For more information about HPV vaccination, click here.