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What is HPV?

HPV (Human Papillomavirus) is a common virus that affects both females and males worldwide and is specific to humans.  There are more than 100 different types of HPV; most often the virus does not cause symptoms and can go away on its own.  However there are more than 40 types that can cause serious problems. These types are most commonly found on the genitals and are transmitted via sexual contact. The virus can also be transmitted from mother to child.

How it affects you…

The highest risk group for HPV is young women between 15-29 years old.  It is estimated that 75% of Canadians will have an HPV infection in their lifetime. HPV can cause genital warts, abnormal cervical cells, cervical cancer and other rare conditions and reproductive cancers (including anal, oral and penile cancers).

How can you protect yourself?

  • Get vaccinated for HPV
  • Get routine Pap tests
  • Limit the number of sexual partners
  • Safe sex practices (condoms)

The HPV vaccine can protect girls and young women against 4 types of Human Papillomaviruses that cause most cervical cancers and genital warts.

Benefits of HPV Vaccination

In women who have never been infected with HPV, the vaccine:

  • Prevents 7 out of 10 cases of cancer of the cervix.
  • Prevents 9 out of 10 cases of genital warts.
  • Is safe, very effective and has few side effects.

There have been few side effects associated with the vaccine.  It has been shown to be generally well tolerated in adults and children as young as age 9. The most common side effects reported were pain, swelling, itching, bruising and redness where the shot was given. Others included fever, nausea, dizziness, headache, vomiting and pain in extremity.

Who should get the vaccine?

HPV’s prevalence worldwide varies from 3% to 70% at any given time.

The vaccine is recommended for girls and women between the ages of 9 and 26 before they come into contact with HPV.

The vaccine is not only recommended for girls, boys/men between the ages of 9-26 should also be considered for vaccination before they have come in contact with the virus.

Who should not get the vaccine?

The vaccine is not recommended for:

  • People who have had a life-threatening reaction to a previous dose of HPV vaccine, or to any component of the vaccine (including yeast).
  • Pregnant women.
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