Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most commonly transmitted sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the U.S. It can cause genital warts and other warts in various parts of the body and can also cause cervical cancer. If a woman does not develop warts, the only way she will know she has HPV is if she has an abnormal pap smear. HPV can also contribute to other types of cancer, including cancers of the vagina, vulva, anus, penis and throat.
About HPV Vaccines
There are two vaccines that can protect against HPV: Gardasil and Cervarix. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends all girls and boys ages 11 and 12 be immunized. However the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved their use for males and females ranging in age from nine to 26. Getting vaccinated is recommended before becoming sexually active.
Things to Consider
In recent years, there has been much media attention surrounding vaccines. If you have questions or concerns about HPV vaccines or whether you or your child should be vaccinated, you should talk to your gynecologist.
Also, be aware that getting vaccinated against HPV requires three separate appointments, ideally within six months. You must make sure you follow through with all three appointments, or you or your child won’t be protected.