HPV is a common virus that can cause certain cancers in both males and females: cancers of the cervix, vagina, vulva, penis, anus, and back of the throat.
HPV infections are so common that nearly all sexually active men and women will get at least one type of HPV infection at some point in their lives.
HPV is usually present in and around the external genital area and thus HPV spreads through intimate skin-to-skin contact, including having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the virus.
There is no way to tell if a person infected with HPV will develop cancer. However, people who smoke, have multiple sexual partners or weakened immune systems might be more likely to develop health problems if they contract the virus.
HPV vaccine is recommended for both boys and girls. The centers for disease control and prevention (CDC) recommends vaccinating both boys and girls against HPV, starting at age 11 or 12. Children who get their first shot of vaccine before 15 years of age only need two doses, with the second given six to 12 months after the first. Children who get their first shot of the vaccine on or after their 15th birthday will need to take three shots given over six months.
HPV vaccination is also recommended for adults till the age of 26 (if they have not already been vaccinated). According to the CDC, some adults may benefit up to the age of 45 yrs. But, the benefit of vaccine is less in this age range (26-45), as most of have already been exposed to HPV. This group needs to have a discussion with their doctor before taking the vaccine.
Age matters. When you vaccinate your child on time, this gives them the best protection from human papillomavirus and prevent them from HPV related cancers.
The first HPV vaccine became available in 2006. The free HPV vaccine program was introduced in 2007 by various countries because extensive trials proved that vaccinating young women with the HPV vaccine was likely to significantly reduce cervical cancer cases and deaths from the disease. As of 2022, 125 countries have included HPV vaccine in their routine vaccination program for girls, and 47 countries also for boys.
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