HPV stands for the human papillomavirus. If left untreated, this virus can lead to some forms of genital cancers and warts in both women and men. The virus can infect the throat and the genital area — the vulva, vagina, cervix, rectum, anus, penis, or scrotum. HPV is easily transmitted through skin-to-skin and sexual contact.
There are many strands of HPV, the HPV vaccine protects against the strands of HPV that cause most cases of cervical cancer - the second-most common type of cancer among women worldwide - as well as many forms of genital warts. This vaccine is given in a series of three shots administered over six months.
The vaccine protects against HPV for at least five years and it may last much longer. In some cases a booster shot may be needed. The vaccine is not a treatment for HPV. The HPV vaccine works best in people who have not yet had sex or been exposed to HPV, but even those who have had sex can benefit from the vaccine.
Planned Parenthood offers the HPV vaccine to females and males ages 19 - 26. The vaccine is not routinely given to individuals older than 26. No matter how old you are, you should talk with a health care provider to learn if the HPV vaccine could benefit you or your child.
Studies show that the HPV vaccine is safe. The most common side effects are soreness, redness, swelling or itching around the area where the shot is given. Some may experience a mild fever. These symptoms do not last long and pass on their own.
Planned Parenthood offers the HPV vaccine as well as cervical cancer screenings. The HPV vaccine is available for females and males ages 9 - 26 for $135. Find the health center nearest you or call 1.800.230.PLAN for more information.