Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus that can cause genital warts and cancer. HPV is usually spread through sexual contact. More than 14 million new HPV infections occur 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. Most new infections are in people in their teens and early twenties. Most people will have no symptoms and never know they have the virus, but while infected, can pass on the virus to their partner.
Some HPV infections can lead to cancer
Although most infections go away on their own in about two years, HPV infections that do not go away can lead to cancer. HPV causes almost all cervical cancer in the US and can also cause cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, mouth, and throat.
People can pass the virus on even if they have no symptoms and even if years have passed since they were first infected.
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.
Both males and females up to age 26 years who were not vaccinated at age 11 or 12 years should receive catch-up HPV vaccination. Three doses are recommended for those who initiate the vaccination series after age 15 years, and for those who have weakened immune systems (such as people with cancer and certain disorders).
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.
For more information, see:
National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID): Infographic highlighting steps to make HPV vaccination routine
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
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Which adults need the HPV vaccine and why?
HPV can cause cancers that affect both men and women. Watch this CDC video to learn about preventing HPV-related cancers by vaccinating your children (boys and girls) at ages 11-12.
HPV vaccine recommendations from CDC and resources to help answer questions about HPV
HPV prevention is cancer prevention
Information and resources about HPV vaccine safety
Provides information, tools, and resources for healthcare professionals to help increase HPV vaccination rates for males and females at the recommended ages for vaccination
Best practices for increasing HPV immunization rates in preteens, teen, and young adults as well as effective informational and educational tools for healthcare professionals to share with patients
Resources designed to help healthcare professionals communicate the importance of HPV vaccination in preventing cancer
Resources on HPV for healthcare professionals to share with adolescent patients
For healthcare professionals to share with parents/guardians of preteen and teen patients about HPV and the importance of HPV vaccination