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 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. Eight in ten New Yorkers will get HPV in their lifetime and may not even know it.
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 six different types of cancers. 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. The HPV vaccine:
- Prevents more than 90% of cancers caused by HPV;
- Provides safe and lasting protection against infections that cause HPV-related cancers;
- It is given as a series of two-doses for boys and girls ages 11-12. The second dose should be given 6-12 months after the first dose; It is best given long before preteens are exposed to the virus;
- Can be given at the same time as other recommended vaccines such as meningitis and whooping cough all in the same visit; and
- It is also recommended through age 26 for women and men who did not get the vaccine when they were younger.
Did You Know…?
- Every year in New York, nearly 2,600 people are diagnosed with cancer caused by HPV.
- 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).
 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.
Who Should Get Vaccinated?
The HPV vaccine protects children from developing certain types of cancers later in life. 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.
Children who are vaccinated when they’re older 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. Teenagers who haven’t gotten the vaccine yet should talk to their parent or guardian, and health care provider about getting it as soon as possible.
The HPV vaccine is also recommended through age 26 for both men and women, if they did not get vaccinated when they were younger. Vaccination is not recommended for everyone older than age 26 years. However, some adults age 27 through 45 years who are not already vaccinated may decide to get the HPV vaccine after speaking with their healthcare provider about their risk for new HPV infections and the possible benefits of vaccination.
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 the HPV vaccine is cancer prevention. 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.