HPV (Human Papillomavirus)

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a group of more than 100 viruses that are usually spread through sexual contact. HPV infection is extremely common; there are more than 14 million new infections in the US each year, and about 80 percent of sexually active men and women are infected with HPV at some point in their lives, but most people never know they have the virus. Most new infections are in people in their teens and early twenties.

HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer and can also cause cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, mouth, and throat. The virus also causes genital warts. People can pass the virus on even if they have no symptoms and even if years have passed since they were first infected.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 11- to 12-year-olds get two doses of HPV vaccine to protect against cancers caused by HPV. The second dose should be given 6-12 months after the first dose. Those who initiate the vaccination series after age 15 years as well as those who are immunocompromised should receive three doses.

Both males and females up to age 26 years who were not adequately vaccinated should receive catch-up HPV vaccination. 

Adults age 27-45 years should talk to a healthcare professional about whether HPV vaccination is right for them. Shared clinical decision-making is recommended because some individuals who are not adequately vaccinated might benefit from vaccination. 

View additional information on the CDC recommendations.


In 2018, NFID launched an HPV awareness campaign (The Talk) in collaboration with DoSomething.org, a not-for-profit organization for social change whose digital platform reaches more than 6 million adolescents, to make conversations about HPV prevention easier. Read some of the inspirational stories from teens and young adults who participated in the campaign.


5 Key Steps to Improve HPV Vaccination Rates

National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID): Infographic highlighting steps to make HPV vaccination routine

Adolescent Vaccination Recommendation: HPV


HPV Radio Public Service Announcement (2012) - 30 Seconds

National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID): PSA highlighting HPV as a cause of throat cancer in males; includes a strong recommendation for vaccination to prevent HPV infection

Questions and Answers About HPV and the Vaccine

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)

Time to Talk about HPV!

National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID): Blog post highlighting campaign to raise awareness about HPV and encourage teens and young adults to talk with their parents and guardians about HPV vaccination