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Human papillomavirus


HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). There were about 43 million HPV infections in 2018, many among people in their late teens and early 20s. There are many different types of HPV. Some types can cause health problems including, genital warts and cancers.

You can get HPV by having sex with someone who has the virus. HPV can be passed even when an infected person has no signs or symptoms. Anyone sexually active can get HPV, even if you have had sex with only one person. You can also develop symptoms years after you have sex with someone infected, making it hard to know when you first became infected.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Gardasil (HPV4), a Merck vaccine for four types of HPV, in 2006. The FDA approved another vaccine, Cervarix (HPV2), from GlaxoSmithKline, which protects against two high-risk types of HPV, in 2009. A nine-valent vaccine (HPV9, Gardasil 9) was approved in 2014. All HPV vaccines use just a protein from the shell of specific HPV types: they contain no viral RNA or DNA and cannot cause disease. The HPV vaccines have been shown to be effective in preventing precancerous cervical and anal changes in women and men caused by high-risk cancer-causing HPV strains. HPV4 and HPV9 additionally offer protection from several low-risk, wart-causing HPV types.

  • Protects against infections that can lead to six types of cancer.

  • Protects against abnormal cells that can lead to cancer (precancers) and the lasting effects of testing and treatment for these precancers.

  • Protects your child long before they ever are exposed to cancer-causing infections. 

Almost every unvaccinated person who is sexually active will get HPV at some time in their life. About 13 million Americans, including teens, become infected with HPV each year. Most HPV infections will go away on their own. But infections that don’t go away can cause certain types of cancer.

HPV is estimated to cause nearly 36,000 cancers in men and women every year in the United States. HPV vaccination can prevent 33,000 of these cancers by preventing the infections that cause them.

HPV infections, genital warts, and cervical precancers (abnormal cells on the cervix that can lead to cancer) have dropped since the vaccine has been in use in the United States.

HPV can cause several kinds of cancer. Early screening can detect cervical cancer. Other cancers caused by HPV may not be detected until they are more serious.

Depending on the type of HPV virus, warts may appear which include:

  • Genital warts. 

  • Common warts. 

  • Plantar warts. 

  • Flat warts. 

Happy Teenagers

11-12 Years

  • Two doses of the HPV shot are needed, 6-12 months apart.

  • If the shots are given less than five months apart, a 3rd dose is necessary.

If started after 15th birthday

  • Three doses of the HPV shot should be given over six months.

  • If your teen isn't vaccinated yet, talk to their doctor about getting it as soon as possible.

Researchers in England found up to an 87% reduction in cervical cancer rates in women who received the HPV vaccine. The study also found a 97% reduction in pre-cancer of the cervix for those vaccinated against HPV.

Dr. Mina Joseph stated:

"The HPV vaccine is incredibly effective and safe at reducing the spread of the HPV virus. It is a very common virus. Most people will have been infected with a strain of HPV by their late 20s. This vaccine can help prevent genital warts and up to 90% of cervical cancer cases; males can also be infected by HPV and develop malignancy, most commonly of the head and neck region. Don't delay getting your child's HPV vaccine. The immune response is strongest and most effective when given prior to any sexual activity. Two doses are recommended before age 15, and three doses if completed after age 15."

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