Human Papillomavirus Vaccine

(HPV Vaccine)

What Is Human Papillomavirus?

Human papillomaviruses (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 vulva
  • In or around the vagina or anus
  • On the cervix
  • On the penis, scrotum, groin, or thigh
Some strains of HPV are linked to cervical cancer . Although it is less common, some strains are linked to cancers of the vulva, anus , 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.

What Is the HPV Vaccine?

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, vagina , vulva, and anus
  • Genital warts
  • Precancerous 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.

Who Should Be Vaccinated and When?

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.

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