What is Genital HPV Infection?Genital human papillomavirus (also called HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). There are more than 40 HPV types that can infect the genital areas of males and females. These HPV types can also infect the mouth and throat. Most people who become infected with HPV do not even know they have it. HPV is not the same as herpes or HIV (the virus that causes AIDS). These are all viruses that can be passed on during sex, but they cause different symptoms and health problems.
How do people get HPV?
The types of HPV that can cause genital warts are not the same as the types that can cause cancer.
What are the potential health problems of HPV?100 Questions & Answers About Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
Genital warts usually appear as a small bump or groups of bumps in the genital area. They can be small or large, raised or flat, or shaped like a cauliflower. Health care providers can diagnose warts by looking at the genital area during an office visit. Warts can appear within weeks or months after sexual contact with an infected partner—even if the infected partner has no signs of genital warts. If left untreated, genital warts might go away, remain unchanged, or increase in size or number. Warts will not turn into cancer.
Cervical cancer usually does not have symptoms until it is quite advanced, very serious and hard to treat. For this reason, it is important for women to get regular screening for cervical cancer. Screening tests can find early signs of disease so that problems can be treated early, before they ever turn into cancer.
Other HPV-related cancers might not have signs or symptoms until they are advanced and hard to treat. These include cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and head and neck. Human papillomavirus (HPV) has been found to be associated with several types of cancer: cervical, vulvar, vaginal, penile, anal, and some head and neck cancers. Each year, more than 17,300 HPV-associated cancers occur in women; cervical cancer is the most common. Almost 7,600 HPV-associated cancers occur each year in men; head and neck cancers are the most common.
RRP causes warts to grow in the throat. It can sometimes block the airway, causing a hoarse voice or troubled breathing. Although rare, RRP can occur among adults and children.
How can people prevent HPV?
There are several ways that people can lower their chances of getting HPV:
How can people prevent HPV-related diseases?Gene-Eden: Antiviral Supplement for HPV, EBV, Herpes, Hepatitis, Safe, Effective, Patented Formula
There are ways to prevent the possible health effects of HPV, including the two most common problems: genital warts and cervical cancer.
ScreeningCervical cancer is the easiest female cancer to prevent, with regular screening tests and follow-up. Two tests can help prevent cervical cancer or find it early—
The Pap test is recommended for all women, and can be done in a doctor's office or clinic. During the Pap test, the doctor will use a plastic or metal instrument, called a speculum, to widen your vagina. This helps the doctor examine the vagina and the cervix, and collect a few cells and mucus from the cervix and the area around it. The cells are then placed on a slide or in a bottle of liquid and sent to a laboratory. The laboratory will check to be sure that the cells are normal.
If you are getting the HPV test in addition to the Pap test, the cells collected during the Pap test will be tested for HPV at the laboratory. Talk with your doctor, nurse, or other health care professional about whether the HPV test is right for you.
When you have a Pap test, the doctor may also perform a pelvic exam, checking your uterus, ovaries, and other organs to make sure there are no problems. There are times when your doctor may perform a pelvic exam without giving you a Pap test. Ask your doctor which tests you are having, if you are unsure.
If you have a low income or do not have health insurance, you may be able to get a free or low-cost Pap test through the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. To find out if you qualify, call your local program or 1-800-CDC-INFO.
When to Get Screened
You should start getting regular Pap tests at age 21, or within three years of the first time you have sex—whichever happens first. The Pap test, which screens for cervical cancer, is one of the most reliable and effective cancer screening tests available.
The only cancer for which the Pap test screens is cervical cancer. It does not screen for ovarian, uterine, vaginal, or vulvar cancers. So even if you have a Pap test regularly, if you notice any signs or symptoms that are unusual for you, see a doctor to find out why you're having them.
In addition to the Pap test—the main test for cervical cancer—the HPV test may also be used to screen women aged 30 years and older, or women of any age who have unclear Pap test results.
If you are 30 years old or older and your screening tests are normal, your chance of getting cervical cancer in the next few years is very low. For that reason, your doctor may tell you that you will not need another screening test for up to three years. But you should still go to the doctor regularly for a check-up that may include a pelvic exam.
It is important for you to continue getting a Pap test regularly—even if you think you are too old to have a child, or are not having sex anymore. If you are older than 65 and have had normal Pap test results for several years, or if you have had your cervix removed (during an operation called a hysterectomy), your doctor may tell you it is okay to stop getting regular Pap tests.
For more information, please read the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force overview of cervical cancer screening recommendations.
How to Prepare for Your Pap Test
If you are going to have a Pap test in the next two days, you should not—
Pap Test Results
It can take up to three weeks to receive your Pap test results. If your test shows that something might not be normal, your doctor will contact you and figure out how best to follow up. There are many reasons why Pap test results might not be normal. It usually does not mean you have cancer.
If your Pap test results show cells that are not normal and may become cancer, your doctor will let you know if you need to be treated. In most cases, treatment prevents cervical cancer from developing. It is important to follow up with your doctor right away to learn more about your test results and receive any treatment that may be needed.
Is there a treatment for HPV or related problems?
There is no treatment for the virus itself, but there are treatments for the problems that HPV can cause:
HPV vaccines ("shots") are available for males and females to protect against the types of HPV that most commonly cause health problems.
What HPV vaccines are available in the United States?
Two HPV vaccines are licensed by the FDA and recommended by CDC. These vaccines are Cervarix (made by GlaxoSmithKline) and Gardasil (made by Merck).
How are the two HPV vaccines similar?
>How are the two HPV vaccines different?
Who should get HPV vaccine?
People who have already had sexual contact before getting all 3 doses of an HPV vaccine might still benefit if they were not infected before vaccination with the HPV types included in the vaccine they received. The best way to be sure that a person gets the most benefit from HPV vaccination is to complete all three doses before sexual activity begins.
Why is Gardasil not on the immunization schedule for boys and men?
CDC did not add this vaccine to the recommended immunization schedules for males in these age groups because studies suggest that the best way to prevent the most disease due to HPV is to vaccinate as many girls and women as possible. Parents of boys can decide if Gardasil is right for their sons by talking with their sons’ health care providers. Young men can also discuss this vaccine with their doctors.
Why is HPV vaccine recommended at ages 11 or 12 years?
For the HPV vaccine to work best, it is very important to get all 3 doses (shots) before being exposed to HPV. Someone can be infected with HPV the very first time they have sexual contact with another person. It is also possible to get HPV even if sexual contact only happens one time.
How does getting HPV vaccine at ages 11 or 12 fit with other health recommendations?
Doctors recommend health check-ups for preteens. The first dose of an HPV vaccine should be given to girls aged 11 or 12 years during a pre-teen health check-up. The first dose of Gardasil can also be given to boys during their pre-teen check-ups. Two other vaccines are recommended for pre-teens. During one visit, either HPV vaccine can be given safely with these other pre-teen vaccines. A check-up in the pre-teen years is also a time when pre-teens and their parents can talk to their providers about other ways to stay healthy and safe.
What is the recommended schedule (or timing) of the 3 HPV doses (shots)?
For both females and males, 3 doses (shots) are needed. CDC recommends that the second dose be given one to two months after the first, and the third dose be given six months after the first dose.
Will someone be protected against HPV-related diseases if they do not get all 3 doses?
No studies so far have shown whether or not 1 or 2 doses protect as well as getting 3 doses, so it is very important to get all 3 doses.
Are the HPV vaccines safe and effective?
FDA has licensed the vaccines as safe and effective. Both vaccines were tested in thousands of people around the world. These studies showed no serious side effects. Common, mild side effects included pain where the shot was given, fever, headache, and nausea. As with all vaccines, CDC and FDA continue to monitor the safety of these vaccines very carefully.
Do people faint after getting HPV vaccines?
People faint for many reasons. Some people may faint after getting any vaccine, including HPV vaccines. Falls and injuries can occur after fainting. Sitting or lying down for about 15 minutes after a vaccination can help prevent fainting and injuries.
Can HPV vaccines treat HPV infections, cancers, or warts?
HPV vaccines will not treat or get rid of existing HPV infections. Also, HPV vaccines do not treat or cure health problems (like cancer or warts) caused by an HPV infection that occurred before vaccination.
Are there other HPV diseases that the two vaccines may prevent?
Studies have shown that Gardasil prevents cancers of the vagina and vulva, which like cervical cancer, can be caused by HPV types 16 and 18. Studies of Cervarix have not specifically looked at protection against vaginal and vulvar cancers.
Published studies have not looked at other health problems that might be prevented by HPV vaccines. It is possible that HPV vaccines will also prevent cancers of the head and neck, penis, and anus due to HPV 16 or 18. Gardasil might prevent recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RRP), a rare condition caused by HPV 6 or 11 in which warts grow in the throat.
Are kids getting too many vaccines?
Vaccines strengthen the body’s immune system—they do not overload it. No reputable science shows that getting recommended vaccines hurts the immune systems of healthy kids. The HPV vaccines are important tools to prevent cervical cancer and genital warts. As with all vaccines, the benefits outweigh potential risks.
Why aren’t HPV vaccines recommended for people older than 26?
Both vaccines were studied in thousands of people from 9 through 26 years old and found to be safe and effective for these ages. The FDA will consider licensing HPV vaccines for other ages if new studies show that this would also be safe and effective.
Should pregnant women be vaccinated?
Pregnant women are not included in the recommendations for HPV vaccines. Studies show neither vaccine caused problems for babies born to women who got the HPV vaccine while they were pregnant. Getting the HPV vaccine when pregnant is not a reason to consider ending a pregnancy. But, to be on the safe side until even more is known, a pregnant woman should not get any doses of either HPV vaccine until her pregnancy is completed.
What should a woman do if she realizes she received HPV vaccination while pregnant?
If a woman realizes that she got any shots of an HPV vaccine while pregnant, she should do two things:
Will HPV vaccination be covered by health insurance?
Most health insurance plans cover recommended vaccines. But there may be a lag time after a vaccine is recommended before it gets added to insurance plans. Some insurance plans may not cover any or all vaccines. Check with your insurance provider to see if the cost of the vaccine is covered before going to the doctor.
How can my child get an HPV vaccine if I don’t have insurance?
The Vaccines for Children (VFC) program helps families of eligible children who might not otherwise have access to vaccines. The program provides vaccines at no cost to doctors who serve eligible children. Children younger than 19 years of age are eligible for VFC vaccines if they are Medicaid-eligible, American Indian, or Alaska Native or have no health insurance. "Underinsured" children who have health insurance that does not cover vaccination can receive VFC vaccines through Federally Qualified Health Centers or Rural Health Centers. Parents of uninsured or underinsured children who receive vaccines at no cost through the VFC Program should check with their health care providers about possible administration fees that might apply. These fees help providers cover the costs that result from important services like storing the vaccines and paying staff members to give vaccines to patients. For more information visit VFC program.
HPV and CancerDoctor speaking with patientSeveral types of cancer are associated with HPV:
Most of the time, HPV goes away by itself within two years and does not cause health problems. It is thought that the immune system fights off HPV naturally. It is only when HPV stays in the body for many years that it can cause these cancers. It is not known why HPV goes away in most, but not all cases. There is no way to know which people will go on to develop cancer or other health problems.