Who should get the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine?

All males and females ages 9–26 should get the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. It is most effective when given at ages 11–12. Unvaccinated men and women ages 27–45 should talk to their doctor about the benefits of the vaccine. The vaccine is given in two doses for males and females ages 9-14. Beginning at age 15 through age 45, three doses are required for full immunity. The HPV vaccine prevents most cervical, anal, vaginal and vulvar cancers. The HPV vaccine reduces the risk of most HPV-related cancers of the throat and the penis. The vaccine also prevents HPV-related genital warts in both men and women. The HPV vaccine is a safe and effective vaccination against HPV infection. What is HPV? HPV is a virus that is spread by intimate skin-to-skin contact. While most cases are sexually transmitted, people who haven’t had intercourse can become infected. There are more than 150 types of the HPV virus. Several types cause genital warts. There are about 12 types – known as high-risk types — that cause HPV-related cancer. About 80% of people – both men and women – will get an HPV infection at some point in their lives. Most people with HPV don’t know they’re infected and never develop symptoms. The body most often clears the virus before it causes any health problems. But for some, the infection persists and can lead to precancerous changes. Screening tests can determine if a woman has a cervical HPV infection. There is no approved screening exam to detect HPV infections in other parts of the body in men or women. There is no drug or treatment that can eliminate the HPV virus from the body. However, there are ways to treat HPV-related health problems like precancerous lesions and genital warts.

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