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 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?
HPV is passed on through genital contact, most often during vaginal and anal sex. HPV may also be passed on during oral sex and genital-to-genital contact. HPV can be passed on between straight and same-sex partners—even when the infected partner has no signs or symptoms.
A person can have HPV even if years have passed since he or she had sexual contact with an infected person. Most infected persons do not realize they are infected or that they are passing the virus on to a sex partner. It is also possible to get more than one type of HPV.
Very rarely, a pregnant woman with genital HPV can pass HPV to her baby during delivery. In these cases, the child can develop recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RRP), a rare condition in which warts grow in the throat. In children, this is also referred to as juvenile-onset recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (JORRP).
HPV vaccines are given as a series of three shots over 6 months to protect against HPV infection and the health problems that HPV infection can cause. Two vaccines (Cervarix and Gardasil) protect against cervical cancers in women. One vaccine (Gardasil) also protects against genital warts and cancers of the anus, vagina and vulva. Both vaccines are available for females. Only Gardasil is available for males.
HPV vaccines offer the best protection to girls and boys who receive all three vaccine doses and have time to develop an immune response before being sexually active with another person. That's why HPV vaccination is recommended for preteen girls and boys at age 11 or 12 years.
Who else should get the HPV vaccine?
In addition to girls and boys aged 11 or 12 years, HPV vaccines are also recommended for teen boys and girls who did not get the vaccine when they were younger, teen girls and young women through age 26, as well as teen boys and young men through age 21.
The vaccine is also recommended for gay and bisexual men (or any man who has sex with a man). It is also recommended for men and women with compromised immune systems (including people living with HIV/AIDS) through age 26, if they did not get fully vaccinated when they were younger.
(All information above was taken from the Center for Disease Control Prevention website.)
Gardasil vaccine is available at NEC for eligible students. For more information about HPV or the Gardasil vaccine, please contact Health and Counseling Services for an appointment.