What is HPV?

HPV, or human papillomavirus, is so common that most people get infected.  It is estimated that about 8 out of 10 people will have HPV at some point in their lives. This is true regardless of sexual preference, gender identity, or number of partners now or in the past. 


Most people who get HPV do not know it. Most HPV infections go away on their own, or become undetectable, without causing health problems. However, there is no way to know which infections will turn into cancer. 


HPV vaccines can prevent infection with the types of HPV most likely to cause cancer, precancer, and genital warts. The current HPV vaccine prevents infection from nine HPV types. These vaccine types are responsible for 90% of HPV cancers.   


Over 37,000 men and women get HPV cancers in the United States each year. Many more get precancers and genital warts caused by HPV 

There are many types of HPV. Some types can cause cancer: cervical, anal, oropharyngeal (throat), penile, vulvar, and vaginal. Other types can cause warts, including genital warts. Genital HPV is spread mainly by direct skin-to-skin contact during sexual activity.  


Vaccines are among the few medical interventions capable of achieving almost complete elimination of a disease. It is not often that we have an opportunity to prevent cancer, or in this case multiple cancers, with a single tool. The HPV vaccine is one of the only vaccines we have that prevent cancer. It works extremely well: it is safe, long-lasting, and effective in preventing HPV infections, genital warts, precancers, and cancers. 


For more information about HPV visit, CDC, ACS, AAP and NCI.

To learn more about the HPV vaccine and current recommendations, visit:


Sources for information above.  

  1. HPV: Information For Healthcare Professionals | CDC 
  1. Saraiya M, et al. U.S. Assessment of HPV Types in Cancers: Implications for Current and 9-valent HPV Vaccines. JNCI 2016;107. 
  1. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccines – NCI (cancer.gov) 
  1. HPV and Cancer – NCI 

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