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Vaccines to Prevent HPV
HPV vaccines are recommended for all 11- and 12-year-olds to protect against infection with the types of HPV (human papillomavirus) that most commonly cause health problems such as HPV cancers and disease.
HPV vaccination is important because it prevents cancer. All three of the HPV vaccines, Cervarix, Gardasil, and Gardasil 9, can prevent most cases of cervical cancer in females, if given before a person is exposed to the virus. Two HPV vaccines, Gardasil and Gardasil 9, can prevent many cases of vaginal and vulvar cancers in women, as well as most cases of anal cancer and genital warts in both females and males. Protection from HPV vaccination is expected to be long-lasting. The best way a person can be sure to get the most benefit from HPV vaccination is to complete all three doses before being exposed to HPV infection. Women should still get regular Pap tests in addition to receiving HPV vaccine.
HPV vaccine is given as a three-dose series:
Three HPV vaccines (Cervarix, Gardasil, and Gardasil 9) are available to protect females against the types of HPV that cause most cervical cancers. Two of these HPV vaccines (Gardasil and Gardasil 9) also protects against most genital warts. Gardasil has also been tested and shown to protect against cancers of the vagina, vulva, and anus.
HPV vaccination is recommended for 11- and 12-year-old girls, and for women 13 through 26 years old who did not get any or all of the three recommended doses when they were younger. These vaccines can also be given to girls beginning at age nine.
Two HPV vaccines (Gardasil and Gardasil 9) protect males against most genital warts and anal cancers. HPV vaccination is recommended for 11- and 12-year-old boys, and for men 13 through 21 years old who did not get any or all of the three recommended doses when they were younger. HPV vaccine may be given to men aged 22-26 years who haven’t completed the three dose series. This vaccine can also be given to boys beginning at age nine. HPV vaccination is also recommended for gay and bisexual men (or any man who has sex with a man), as well as for men with compromised immune systems (including people living with HIV/AIDS) through age 26, if they did not get fully vaccinated when they were younger.
The best way a person can be sure to get the most benefit from HPV vaccination is to complete all three doses before being exposed to HPV infection.
Learn more about HPV and vaccines to prevent cervical cancer by reading answers to frequently asked questions.
Human papillomavirus (also called HPV) is a very common infection. There are more than 40 HPV types that can infect the genital areas of males and females. These HPV types can also infect the mouth and throat. Most people who become infected with HPV do not even know they have it. HPV is not the same as herpes or HIV (the virus that causes AIDS). These are all viruses that can be passed on during sexual activity, but they cause different symptoms and health problems.
HPV infection can cause cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers in women. HPV infection can also cause penile cancer in men. In both women and men, HPV infection can cause anal cancer, mouth/throat cancer, as well a genital warts. HPV infection can also cause warts in the throat.
A person can have HPV even if many years have passed since he or she had sexual contact with an infected person. Most infected persons do not realize they are infected or that they are passing the virus on to someone else. It is also possible to get more than one type of HPV.
Almost all men and women who are sexually active will get at least one type of HPV at some point in their lives; however, most will never know that they have gotten an HPV infection. HPV is passed on through genital contact, most often during vaginal and anal sex. HPV may also be passed on during oral sex and genital-to-genital contact or other types of sex play. HPV can be passed from one person to another without having sexual intercourse. HPV can be passed on between straight and same-sex partners—even when the infected partner has no signs or symptoms.
Very rarely, a pregnant woman with genital warts from HPV can pass the HPV infection to her baby during delivery. In these cases, the child can develop warts in the throat, a condition called Juvenile-Onset Recurrent Respiratory Papillomatosis (JORRP).