What You Don't Know About HPV & The HPV Vaccine
The HPV vaccine is routinely recommended to young women and men starting at age 9. People who may benefit from the vaccine, including gay men and people with HIV, should also be vaccinated.
HPV is extremely common.
You may think HPV is an STD, but it’s actually the most common sexually-transmitted infection in the world. In fact, at least 50% of people will get HPV at some point in their lives—and that happens to be one of the reasons why it’s so dangerous.
HPV is known as a “silent” or “invisible” virus because you can carry it without knowing and spread it without realizing it. Once you have HPV, your body will clear the virus on its own within two years about 80% of the time. If your immune system doesn’t clear out the virus or you are infected with multiple strains at once (known as coinfection), however, then there is a risk that HPV could develop into cancerous cells later on down the road if left untreated.
That’s why getting vaccinated against HPV early on can save your life!
The HPV vaccine protects you from cancer.
There are a lot of myths about HPV and the HPV vaccine out there. But here’s what you need to know: the vaccine protects you from cancer.
HPV is associated with cervical cancer
HPV is associated with other cancers in both men and women, like anal cancer, penile cancer, oropharyngeal (mouth and throat) cancer, vaginal cancer and vulvar cancers.
Some people get genital warts without being exposed to the virus at all—they’re just more susceptible than others.
There’s only one HPV vaccine out there and it does not cause infertility or adverse side effects.
There’s only one HPV vaccine out there, and it does not cause infertility or adverse side effects. It also doesn’t cause birth defects, death, illness, pain or suffering. And it most certainly does not cause disease or harm.
You can get HPV even if you’ve had the HPV vaccine.
It’s true that the HPV vaccine protects against some of the most dangerous types of HPV, but there are other types that can cause cancer and genital warts. And as we discussed above, you can still get those even if you’ve had the vaccine (or if your partner has).
Besides, it’s not just about preventing new infections: The vaccine also prevents recurrences in people who already have HPV! It doesn’t cure existing infections, but it can prevent them from becoming anything more serious or visible than a low-grade wart.
So don’t be afraid to have sex—just be smart about it by using condoms and getting vaccinated!
The vaccine is most effective when given to young people before they become sexually active.
It is most effective when given to young people before they become sexually active. The vaccine has been tested on both men and women, so it can be given to both sexes. However, the vaccine is not effective if you are already sexually active.
The vaccine is most effective when given before you are exposed to the virus — this means that it’s best if your child gets the HPV vaccine around 11 or 12 years old, before he or she starts having sex at about age 16 or 17 (or earlier). It’s not clear how long the protection from an HPV vaccine lasts, but research suggests that most people who get all three doses of Gardasil will be protected for at least 5 years after getting vaccinated (and possibly longer).
The HPV vaccine does not protect against all types of human papillomavirus (HPV). But it does protect against some of the most common types: about 7 out of every 10 cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV types 16 and 18; about 90% of genital warts are caused by HPV 6 and 11; and between 60% and 80% o penile cancer cases have been linked to high-risk strains that include 16 and 18—all three types covered in this shot.
Getting a pap test is important even if you’ve had the HPV vaccine.
Even if you’ve had the HPV vaccine, it’s important to get regular pap tests. Pap tests can detect other types of HPV that aren’t covered by the vaccine and help your doctor figure out if you need treatment.
Pap testing is also important because women who have had the HPV vaccine still need to be screened regularly for cervical cancer. The CDC recommends annual testing starting at age 21, but they advise getting tested more often if you are sexually active or have new partners.
In addition, pap tests are still necessary even if a woman has had an abnormal Pap test result in the past and has been treated for it (for example with surgery). Women who have been diagnosed with a high-grade precancerous lesion may be offered repeat screening every three years instead of annually—and this applies whether or not she’s been vaccinated against HPV
The vaccine protects against the types of HPV that are most likely to cause cervical cancer.
The vaccine protects against the types of HPV that are most likely to cause cervical cancer. The vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV or all types of cervical cancer.
The vaccine also protects against some cancers caused by other high-risk genital HPV types. These include:
- Anal cancer (caused by HPV types 16, 18, 31, 33, 45 and 56)
- Some vaginal and vulvar cancers (caused by HPV types 16 and 18)
We hope this article has helped to clarify some of the common misconceptions about HPV and the HPV vaccine. Remember that the vaccine is really important because it protects against cancer and more than just one type of cancer. This means that it’s not only women who should get vaccinated, but men too!