HPV stands for human papilloma virus. Some strains of HPV are sexually transmitted. Certain strains of the virus are associated with the development of genital warts, cervical cancer, and other less common cancers. The HPV vaccine is meant to prevent infection with these virus strains, particularly those related to the development of cervical cancer.
Webmd.com reports that about 20 million people in the U.S. are infected with HPV at any time, according to the CDC. And three-fourths of sexually active people between ages 15 and 49 have been infected at some point in their lives, according to estimates from the American Social Health Association. Many people may be infected with the virus and have no symptoms. HPV can infect men and women of any age.
Lifestyle appears to be an indicator of risk of infection. You’re more likely to get HPV if you:
- Have sex at an early age
- Have many sex partners
- Have a sex partner who has had multiple partners
Many patients choose to practice safe sex as a preventative measure; others may choose to have the HPV vaccine as a form of protection. We administer the HPV vaccine at our office for any of our patients who wish to receive it. It appears to be effective in 85% or more of women who receive the full series of vaccinations.
The HPV vaccine is given in a series of three doses over a period of six months, and is approved for:
- Girls at ages 11 to 12 (it may be administered as young as age 9 if desired)
- Young women at ages 13 to 26 who have not already received the vaccine
- Any young woman age 26 and younger who plans to become sexually active
Your gynecologist will discuss the options with you during your exam and you can read more about it at http://www.webmd.com/vaccines/what-you-should-know-11/hpv-vaccine.