Is there a vaccine for HPV?
There is a vaccine (“quadrivalent”) that can prevent infection with 4 different types of HPV in young women. This vaccine targets the types of HPV that cause up to 70% of all cases of cervical cancer and about 90% of all cases of genital warts.
There is a second vaccine (“bivalent”) that can prevent infection with the types of HPV that can cause cervical cancer in women. It does not prevent infection with the types of HPV that can cause genital warts.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that girls and boys between the ages of 11 and 12 receive either of the vaccines, as it is important to get vaccinated before becoming sexually active. The vaccine is approved for boys and girls and men and women between 9 years and 26 years of age.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends the vaccine for men who are 26 years old or younger and who have sex with men, or who have sex with men and women, or who are HIV-positive.
The vaccine is given in three doses (shots) over a 6-month period. It’s important to get all three doses to make sure you are getting the most protection from HPV infection.
The HPV vaccine is listed as a covered service under the Affordable Care Act. If you are underinsured or don’t have insurance and you have a low income, you or your child may qualify to get the HPV vaccine at no cost through the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program.
Studies are currently being done to test to see if the vaccine works for men and for women older than 26 years of age.
HPV Testing in the Evaluation of the Minimally Abnormal Papanicolaou Smear by BS Apgar, M.D., M.S., and G Brotzman, M.D. (American Family Physician May 15, 1999, http://www.aafp.org/afp/990515ap/2794.html)
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff