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What is HPV?
HPV, or human papillomavirus, is a common virus that can lead to 6 types of cancer later in life. HPV is spread through intimate skin-to-skin contact.
Nearly 80 million Americans are currently infected with a type of HPV, and 14 million new people become infected every year. HPV infections are so common that nearly all men and women will get at least one type of HPV at some point in their lives.
Is HPV infection serious?
Yes, it is serious. Most HPV infections (9 out of 10) go away by themselves within two years. But, sometimes HPV infections will last longer, and can cause certain types of cancers. HPV infections can cause cancers of the: cervix, vagina, vulva, anus, penis, and throat.
How many cancers are caused by HPV?
Every year in the United States, HPV causes 33,700 cases of cancer in men and women. HPV is linked with more than 90% of anal and cervical cancers, about 70% of vaginal, vulvar, and oropharyngeal (throat) cancers, and 60% of penile cancers. In California there are 3,544 cases of HPV-related cancers each year.
Can HPV-related diseases be prevented?
Yes! The HPV vaccine prevents 90% of HPV cancers when given before exposure to the virus. The HPV vaccine is recommended for boys and girls at ages 11-12. It is one of three vaccines that all children need at this age: HPV, Tdap, and Meningitis. When given at the recommended age, only two doses are needed (6-12 months apart). Those starting the series at age 15 or later will need three doses.
Is the HPV vaccine safe?
The HPV vaccine is very safe. More than 270 million doses have been given around the world since 2006, and safety studies continue to show that HPV vaccination is very safe. The safety of vaccines, including the HPV vaccine, is continually watched by organizations in the US and around the world. All vaccines have potential side effects, but reactions caused by the HPV vaccine have been mostly mild and like those of other vaccines. For more information, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/hpv/parents/vaccinesafety.html.
Can older people get the HPV Vaccine?
The CDC recommends routine vaccination for 11-12 year olds. Males and females ages 13-26 who have not been vaccinated or who have not completed the series should get vaccinated. The HPV vaccine is licensed, but not routinely recommended, for individuals aged 27-45. There are some individuals aged 27-45 who were not adequately vaccinated previously who could benefit from vaccination. The CDC will soon be releasing guidance for doctors and patients to make individual decisions about vaccinating in mid-adulthood (27-45).
Sources: American Cancer Society & Centers for Disease Control and Prevention