HPV stands for human papilloma virus. HPV can lead to some forms of genital cancers and warts in women and men. HPV can be easily transmitted through skin-to-skin contact and other sexual contact. They viruses can infect the throat and the genital area — the vulva, vagina, cervix, rectum, anus, penis, or scrotum.
The HPV vaccine protects against the types of HPV that cause most cases of cervical cancer - which is the second-most common type of cancer among women worldwide - as well as many forms of genital warts, and is given in a series of three shots. You will get the second shot two months after the first shot. You will get the third shot four months after the second shot. So, in all, it takes six months to get all three shots.
The vaccine will protect you against HPV for at least five years. It may last much longer, or you may need a booster shot. More studies need to be done to show how long it lasts. 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 may benefit from the vaccine.
Planned Parenthood offers the HPV vaccine to females and males ages 9 - 26. Some studies have found that the HPV vaccine may be effective for those older than 26, although more studies need to be done to verify that. So, the vaccine is not routinely given to people older than 26, but no matter who you are or how old you are, talk with a health care provider to find out 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 get a mild fever. But these symptoms do not last long and pass on their own.
Planned Parenthood offers cervical cancer screenings, treatment for genital warts and the HPV vaccine. 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.