The Medical Minute: The basics about HPV and vaccinations

The Human Papilloma Virus, or HPV, is the most common sexually transmitted disease today. HPV is the primary cause of cervical cancer, but also can cause other types of cancer in women and men. The virus can affect the genitals, mouth and other areas, and individuals can have HPV and not know it.

But HPV is largely preventable with vaccination.

In this week’s edition of Project Health, Dr. Rollyn Ornstein talks about the importance of vaccination for HPV, especially at an early age.

Protection from HPV Human Papilloma Virus - Penn State Hershey Medical Center

The human papilloma virus or HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease today. There are more than 40 types of HPV that affect the genital, mouth and other areas of both males and females. You can even have the virus and not know it. That's why it's important to be vaccinated at an early age. HPV is the cause of cervical cancer in women. It also causes other cancers in both men and women. It's really important to be vaccinated prior to the onset of sexual activity. In addition, children as young as 9, 10, 11 years old probably make a better immune response to the vaccine. Therefore early vaccination is important. Being protected from HPV means getting three shots for the best possible results.

“It’s really important to be vaccinated prior to the onset of sexual activity,” Ornstein said. “In addition, children as young as 9, 10, 11 years old probably make a better immune response to the vaccine, therefore early vaccination is important.”

HPV vaccination involves a series of three shots over six months, and all three doses are necessary to provide the best protection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HPV vaccination is recommended for 11- or 12-year-old boys and girls. However older people also can benefit from vaccination.

To learn more about HPV and vaccination, visit the CDC’s HPV information page. For detailed information on who should get vaccinated by age group, visit the Penn State Hershey Health Library HPV vaccine page.

The Medical Minute is a weekly health news feature brought to you by Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Articles feature the expertise of Penn State Hershey faculty physicians and staff, and are designed to offer timely, relevant health information of interest to a broad audience.

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Last Updated September 10, 2013