HPV stands for human papillomavirus. There are lots of different types of HPV.
Genital HPV is a very common sexually transmitted infection which usually has no symptoms and goes away by itself, but can sometimes cause serious illnesses.
Almost all cases of genital warts and cervical cancer are due to HPV. HPV also causes some other genital cancers in women and men including vaginal, vulva, penile and anal.
It’s very common. Both men and women can get HPV. You can be exposed to HPV the first time you’re sexually active. The virus is transferred from one person to the other through tiny invisible breaks in the skin. The types of HPV that cause genital cancers and warts are passed on by genital-skin to genital-skin contact.
Condoms offer some but not total protection from HPV, as they don’t cover all of the genital skin. However, condoms do protect against other sexually transmitted infections and help prevent unwanted pregnancy.
HPV & CANCERS
Usually, HPV leaves the body naturally and you never know you had it. Sometimes HPV doesn’t leave the body naturally. Persistent HPV infection can cause abnormal cells to develop. These cells may develop into cancer, usually over many years, if they aren’t treated.
HPV & Vaccine
There is a vaccine that can stop girls and boys getting nine HPV types that cause:
• 90% of cervical cancers
• Most genital HPV-related cancers in males.
• 90% of genital warts.
• For people aged 14 and under, the vaccine is given as two injections in the upper arm, 6 to 12 months apart.
• People who are aged 15 or over when they receive their first dose, or people who do not receive the injections at least six
months apart, will need three injections.
• Ideally, the three doses should be given at 0, 2 and 6 months – that is, the second dose should be given two months after
the first, and the third dose four months after the second.
• It’s very safe.
• Some people do experience mild side effects such as pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, however this is very
normal and these symptoms usually go away quickly.
• The vaccine works best when given at age 12-13, before you become sexually active.
• When the vaccine is given, the body makes antibodies in response.
• If a person is then exposed to the real virus, the antibodies can clear it from the body.
• This is called immunity.