(HPV) are a group of more than 100 viruses.
Certain types of HPV can cause
genital warts, which are growths or bumps that appear: On the vulvaIn or around the vagina or anusOn the cervixOn the penis, scrotum, groin, or thigh
Some strains of HPV are linked to
. Although it is less common, some strains are linked to cancers of the vulva,
, throat, and penis.
HPV is easily spread during oral, genital, or anal sex with an infected partner.
Many people will be exposed to a form of HPV at some point in their lives. Not all will become infected or develop symptoms.
The HPV vaccine contains virus-like particles that are not infectious. These particles produce antibodies to prevent HPV from infecting cells. The vaccine is given by injection into the muscle.
The vaccine Gardasil protects against four types of HPV strains. It may be used to prevent the following conditions:
Cancers of the cervix,
, vulva, and anus
Genital wartsPrecancerous lesions on the genitals (in women)
Another vaccine called Cervarix protects against 2 types of HPV strains. It is used to prevent cervical cancer and cervical precancer in women.
The vaccine is recommended for girls as a 3-dose series between 11 and 12 years old. Girls should be vaccinated before their first sexual contact for the vaccine to be most effective. Girls and women aged 13-26 years who did not receive the HPV vaccine when they were younger should still receive the vaccine series.
It is recommended that boys receive 3 doses of Gardasil beginning at age 11-12 years. Boys and men aged 13-21 years who did not receive the HPV vaccine when they were younger should still receive the vaccine series.
Men aged 22-26 years may also be vaccinated. Men in this age group should be vaccinated if they have sex with other men, have HIV infection, or have a weak immune system due to other illnesses or medications.
The vaccine is recommended to children aged 9-10 who are at high risk due to a history of sexual abuse.
Research suggests that the vaccine does not appear to cause any serious side effects. Like any vaccine, it has the potential to cause serious problems, such as a severe allergic reaction.
Some problems have been associated with the HPV vaccines, like pain, redness, swelling, or itching at the injection site. Other potential side effects include:
HeadacheMild to moderate feverFainting
FatigueHeadacheMuscle painJoint painGastrointestinal symptomsFainting
Do not get the vaccine if you: Had a life-threatening allergic reaction to yeast or any other component of the vaccine.Are or may be pregnant.Are moderately or severely ill. Wait until you have recovered.
Avoiding physical contact with an infected sexual partner is the only way to completely prevent the spread of a genital HPV infection.
may help reduce the spread. However, condoms are not 100% effective because they do not cover the entire genital area.
Other preventive measures include: Sexual abstinenceHaving only one sexual relationship
Regular check-ups for
sexually transmitted diseases
for women, starting at age 21
to screen for cervical cancer
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 6 million new cases of sexually transmitted HPV infections are reported each year. Twenty million people in the United States are already infected. HPV vaccines cannot treat infections that already exist. The best way to prevent further spread of the disease is to get the vaccine before becoming infected.
WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?
2015 Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/std/tg2015/default.htm. Accessed November 12, 2015.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). FDA licensure of quadrivalent human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV4, Gardasil) for use in males and guidance from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).
MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2010;59(20):630-632.
Carter JR, Ding Z, Rose BR. HPV infection and cervical disease: a review.
Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol. 2011;51(2):103-108.
Heffernan ME, Garland SM, Kane MA. Global reduction of cervical cancer with
human papillomavirus vaccines: insights from the hepatitis B virus vaccine
Sex Health. 2010;7(3):383-390.
HPV vaccine (Cervarix): What you need to know. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/hpv-cervarix.html. Updated June 18, 2013. Accessed November 12, 2015.
HPV vaccine (Gardasil): What you need to know. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
Updated June 18, 2013. Accessed November 12, 2015.
Human papillomavirus vaccine. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated September 29, 2015. Accessed November 12, 2015.
Immunization schedules. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/index.html. Updated January 26, 2015. Accessed November 12, 2015.
5/18/2007 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: The FUTURE II Study Group. Quadrivalent vaccine against human papillomavirus to prevent high-grade cervical lesions.
N Engl J Med.
6/4/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: FDA licensure of bivalent human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV2, Cervarix) for use in females and updated HPV vaccination recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).
MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2010;59(20):626-629.
2/16/2016 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommended immunization schedules for persons aged 0 through 18 years. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/downloads/child/0-18yrs-child-combined-schedule.pdf. Published 2016. Accessed February 16, 2016.
Last reviewed November 2015 by David L. Horn, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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