Get the Facts

What is the Human Papillomavirus (HPV)?

The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a common sexually transmitted infection.  HPV infections are so common that nearly ALL men and women will get at least one type of HPV at some point in their lives. Nearly 80 million Americans are currently infected with some type of HPV. About 14 million Americans, including teens, become infected each year.

HPV is spread through intimate skin-to-skin contact (vaginal, anal and oral sex). It can be spread when an infected individual has no signs or symptoms of the virus.

There are many different types of HPV – some types can cause health problems, including genital warts and cancers (cervical, vaginal, vulvar, throat, penile, anal).  HPV often goes away on its own, but if it does not, it can lead to cancer in men and women.  For women, this means cervical, vaginal, vulvar, anal and oropharyngeal (mouth and throat) cancers.  For men, this means penile, anal and oropharyngeal (mouth and throat) cancers.

What is the HPV Vaccine?

The HPV vaccine is cancer prevention.  It is designed to prevent infection and is targeted towards the specific types of HPV that can lead to precancers, cancers, and genital warts.  It is administered as a series of two-doses.  The second dose should be given 6-12 months after the first dose.  The HPV vaccination can prevent more than 90% of HPV-related cancers from ever developing.

The HPV vaccine is recommended for all girls and boys ages 11 to 12.  The idea is to protect preteens before exposure to HPV.  It can be given at the same time as other recommended vaccines.  The vaccine produces a stronger immune response in preteens and young teens vs older teens and young adults. The HPV vaccine is also recommended through age 26 for women and men who did not get the vaccine when they were younger.

Studies show the vaccine is a safe and effective way to protect against the serious health problems that HPV can cause.

Did You Know…?

  • The HPV vaccine can help prevent cancer in both boys and girls.
  • Every year in New York, nearly 2,600 people are diagnosed with cancer caused by HPV.[1]
  • Even though the HPV vaccine can prevent many cancers caused by HPV infection, nearly half of adolescents in New York State (NYS) are not getting the vaccine as recommended.
  • In NYS, HPV vaccine rates are much lower than other recommended vaccines for adolescents age 13-17 years (such as tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, and meningitis).


[1] New York State Cancer Registry (2015).  HPV-related cancer and vaccination rates.  Retrieved from https://www.health.ny.gov/statistics/cancer/docs/hpv_related_cancers_and_vaccination_rates.pdf

Reduce Your Risk

The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine provides adolescents with safe, effective, and long-lasting protection against certain types of cancer later in life.  Vaccines protect them before they are exposed to a disease. That’s why the HPV vaccine is recommended earlier rather than later, to protect adolescents long before they are ever exposed to the virus.

Vaccinate Girls and Boys

Protect your child from developing certain types of cancers later in life with the HPV vaccine at ages 11-12. Two doses of the HPV vaccine are recommended for all boys and girls at ages 11-12; the vaccine can be given as early as age 9.

If you wait until they’re older, they may need three doses instead of two.  Teenagers who start the vaccine series on or after their 15th birthday need three shots given over six months.  If your teen hasn’t gotten the vaccine yet, talk to their health care provider about getting it as soon as possible.

The HPV vaccine is also recommended through age 26 for women, and through age 21 for men, if they did not get vaccinated when they were younger.

Spread the Word

Individuals, parents, colleges and universities, community organizations, dental providers, health care providers, schools, or anyone concerned about health can all do their part to reinforce the message that HPV vaccine is cancer prevention.  If you would like to learn more about the HPV vaccine as a key cancer prevention strategy, contact a local Cancer Prevention in Action resource in your county.

Someone You Love: The HPV Epidemic is an award-winning documentary featuring the lives of five women affected by HPV.  The film also features eight scientific experts who provide clinical insight into this epidemic. If you would like to host a public viewing or educational event to promote awareness about the HPV vaccine, contact a local Cancer Prevention in Action resource in your county or the NYS Cancer Consortium.