HPV stands for human papillomavirus. There are more than 150 types of HPV, and HPV infection is very common. In fact, about 14 million people, including teens, become infected with HPV every year. Most of the time, infection with HPV doesn’t cause health problems and just goes away on its own. People usually don’t even know they have it. But in some cases, HPV doesn’t go away. When that happens, some types of HPV can cause genital warts, while other types can lead to cancer.
The HPV vaccine can protect people from getting the types of HPV infections that cause 6 different kinds of cancer. The vaccinations work best when given to people when they’re young. Girls and boys should ideally begin getting the vaccine series at age 11 or 12.
Who should get the vaccine?
The American Cancer Society recommends that girls and boys begin getting the vaccine series at age 11 or 12. The vaccine causes a better immune response at this age than during the teenage years. Children are also likely still seeing their doctor regularly and getting other vaccinations at this age.
How do people get HPV?
HPV gets passed from one person to another during skin-to-skin contact with an infected part of the body. It can be spread through sexual contact. You cannot get HPV from toilet seats, swimming pools, or sharing food. But almost everyone who is not vaccinated will get HPV at some time in their lives.