Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) Vaccine

What is the HPV vaccine?

The HPV vaccine is an injection available to protect against the most common types of HPV infections which causes cervical cancer.

The HPV vaccines are generally recommended for girls 9-13 of age, with all 3 doses given within a six month period based on the World Health Organization recommendations. However the vaccine may also be given to boys or young men.

 

What are HPV infection?

HPV is short for Human papilloma virus (also called HPV). HPVs are a group of viruses that are spread during sex (most often sexual intercourse and genital skin-to-skin contact). It is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI).

 

Who can get HPV?

Anyone who has ever had sex is at risk for HPV. Both men and women can be infected with HPV.

 

Are there any symptoms of HPV?

No. HPV usually stays hidden and doesn’t cause symptoms. In most cases HPV goes away by itself without any treatment, because the immune system gets rid of the virus. Only certain types of HPV can cause changes to cells in the cervix that may lead to cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer usually does not cause symptoms until it is quite advanced. At this time it may present with bleeding after sex or spotting or bleeding between your monthly periods.

 

Is there a test for HPV?

Yes, there is a test for HPV called the HPV test. For women who are age 30 or older, the HPV test can be done at the same time as the Pap test.

 

How can HPV be prevented?

If you are sexually active, you can reduce your risk by:

  • Limiting the number of sex partners; and choosing a partner who has had no or few prior sex partners.
  • Being in a faithful relationship with one partner.
  • Using condoms, however, this will only reduce the risk of HPV infection. The HPV infection can also be spread unto areas not covered by a condom – so condoms may not fully protect against HPV.
  • Getting the HPV vaccine.