HPV or "Human Papilloma Virus" refers to a group of viruses which can affect cells in your throat, anus, mouth and cervix. Certain strains of HPV can lead to genital warts, as well as cancer in women, and more rarely; anal and throat cancer.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination protects both men and women against diseases caused by HPV. These diseases include pre-cancerous lesions and cancers of the female genitals (cervix, vulva, and vagina), pre-cancerous lesions and cancers of the anus and genital warts in males and females. In the UK, just under 1,000 women die from cervical cancer every year. There are about 300 deaths from anal cancer each year in the UK. Genital warts are very common. In England, they are the second most common type of sexually transmitted infection (STI) after chlamydia.
Exposure can happen with any kind of adolescent experimentation that involves genital contact with someone who has HPV — intercourse isn’t necessary, but it’s the most common way to get the virus. Because HPV often has no signs or symptoms, anyone can get the virus without even knowing it and then pass it on.
Cervical cancer is caused by certain types of HPV. When a female is infected with these types of HPV and the virus doesn’t go away on its own, abnormal cells can develop in the cervix. If these abnormal cells are not found early through routine cervical cancer screening and treated, then cervical cancer can develop. Many females with cervical cancer were probably exposed to cancer-causing HPV types in their teens and 20s.
Yes. Males can get HPV too. In fact, HPV can cause anal cancer and genital warts in males.
Yes, there are three type pf HPV vaccines in the UK and they are all licensed for use in male and female.
Two types of HPV cause approximately 90% of all genital warts cases in both males and females. Approximately 3 out of 4 people will get genital warts after having any kind of genital contact with someone who has genital warts. Treatment for genital warts can be painful (for example, freezing or applying medicine to the warts) and, even after treatment, genital warts can come back. In fact, approximately 25% of all cases return within 3 months.
No. There are currently no available medicines that treat HPV infection. For most, HPV clears on its own. But, for others who don’t clear the virus, HPV could cause cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers in females and anal cancer and genital warts in both males and females.
Years of testing are required by law to ensure the safety of vaccines before they are made available for use in the UK. In studies, the most common side effects with the HPV vaccines (seen in more than 1 patient in 10) were reactions at the site of the injection (redness, pain and swelling) and headache. These side effects were normally mild or moderate. For the full list of all side effects reported, see the package leaflet.
No. It is not possible to get HPV or any disease caused by HPV from the HPV vaccination.
In girls and women ages 9 to 26, this vaccine helps protect against the 7 types of HPV that cause about 90% of HPV-related cervical cancer cases, about 85% of HPV-related vaginal cancer cases, and about 90% of HPV-related vulvar cancer cases. In males and females, the new HPV vaccine helps protect against the 7 types of HPV that cause about 90% of HPV-related anal cancer cases and the2 types of HPV that cause about 90% of HPV-related genital warts cases. Not all cases of vaginal, vulvar, and anal cancer are caused by HPV. Approximately 70% to 75% of vaginal cancer cases, 30% of vulvar cancer cases, and 85% to 90% of anal cancer cases are HPV related.
Will I still need to get cervical screening test in the future? Yes. Cervical screening test will play a key role in protecting your health since the HPV vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV. Cervical screening test is proven to help save lives by looking for abnormal cells in the cervix before they have the chance to become precancer or cancer.
See more information about cervical screening on the NHS website.
See a healthcare provider if you have questions about anything new or unusual (such as warts, growths, lumps, or sores) on your own or your partner’s penis, scrotum, anus, mouth or throat. Even if you are healthy, you and your sex partner(s) may also want to get checked by a healthcare provider for other STIs. If you or your partner have genital warts, you should avoid having sex until the warts are gone or removed. However, it is not known how long a person can spread HPV after warts are gone.
HPV infections are usually temporary. A person may have had HPV for many years before it causes health problems. If you or your partner are diagnosed with an HPV-related disease, there is no way to know how long you have had HPV, whether your partner gave you HPV, or whether you gave HPV to your partner. HPV is not necessarily a sign that one of you is having sex outside of your relationship. It is important that sex partners discuss their sexual health, and risk for all STIs, with each other.
Will sexually active individuals benefit from the vaccine? Even if someone has already had sex, they should still get HPV vaccine. Even though HPV infection usually happens soon after someone has sex for the first time, a person might not be exposed to any or all the HPV types that are in the vaccine. Males and females in the age groups recommended for vaccination are likely to get at least some protection from the vaccine.
Should women be screened for cervical cancer before getting vaccinated? Girls and women do not need to get an HPV test or Cervical Screening Test to find out if they should get the vaccine. However, it is important that women continue to be screened for cervical cancer, even after getting all 3 shots of HPV vaccination. This is because HPV vaccines do not protect against ALL types of cervical cancer.
Watch a video about HPV vaccine.
There is no treatment for HPV, so vaccinating can protect against the virus.
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