Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most commonly sexually transmitted infection (STI). There are many different types of HPV. Some types can cause genital warts and other types can cause cancer, including oropharyngeal cancer and cervical cancer1.
How is HPV Spread?
HPV is spread through sexual contact, including oral and most commonly, vaginal and anal sex. HPV can be passed even when an infected person shows no signs or symptoms1.
Symptoms of HPV Infection
There are more than 100 strains of HPV. Some strains have no symptoms at all. 30-40 of these strains affect the human genital tract, causing genital warts and different types of cancers2. The most common cancer associated with HPV is cervical cancer, which may take up to 20 years to develop after infection in people with normal immune systems3.
Types of HPV Vaccines
Beginning in 2017, Gardasil-9 is the only HPV vaccine that is available in the United States. The first generation of Gardasil covered HPV– 6, 11, 16, and 18. Gardasil-9 covers those four strains, as well as 31, 33, 45, 52, and 584.
HPV Vaccine Safety
Gardasil 9 has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Clinical trials were run with over15,000 people before the vaccine was licensed. The FDA and Center for Disease Control (CDC) continually monitor the safety of the vaccines. Any safety concerns detected with these vaccines are reported to health officials, healthcare professionals, and the public5.
HPV Vaccine Effectiveness
This graph shows the decrease in central HPV infections, cervical precancers, and oral HPV infections in the United States due to the HPV vaccine6.
HPV Vaccine Schedules
The 0 recommends the initial dose, and then the numbers after the 0 recommend the amount of months that pass between doses. For example,for 9-14 year olds, the original dose takes place at 0 months, and then the second dose takes place between 6-12 months7.
Vaccine Side Effects
Pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site
Dizziness or fainting
Muscle or joint pain
Headache or fatigue
Severe Allergic Reactions to HPV Vaccines
Severe allergic reactions following HPV vaccination are rare, but can be life threatening if they occur. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction may include hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, and weakness. Seek immediate medical attention if such reactions occur8.
How do I know if I am protected against HPV?
Your vaccination records are the best way of knowing if you have been vaccinated. If these records cannot be found, your doctor may perform a blood test. Speak with your doctor if you are unsure about your immune status9.