17 Jun 2020
HPV represents a very common group of viruses.
HPV has many types, some can cause cancer and are called "high risk" , such as cervical cancer, anal cancer, genital cancers, and cancers of the head and neck.
Some HPV types can cause warts or verrucas.
Almost all cervical cancers (99.7%) are caused by high-risk type of HPV infections.
On the other hand, HPV infections are responsible for only some of the anal and genital cancers, and cancers of the head and neck. The other elements causing these cancers are smoking and drinking alcohol.
There are no symptoms associated with HPV infections and hence most people affected will not be aware of it.
HPV has over a hundred types and the genital area is affected by over 40 of them.
HPV is very common and in most people, the body will get rid of it naturally without any treatment. However, the high-risk type of HPV will not get cleared by itself in some people. If not treated on time, this can result in abnormal tissue growth and other complications and eventually turn into cancer.
High-risk types of HPV can cause various types of cancer, including:
Infection with other types of HPV may cause:
skin warts and verrucas – not on the genital area
warts on the voice box or vocal cords (laryngeal papillomas)
It helps protect against cancers caused by HPV, including:
some cancers of the anal and genital areas
It also helps protect against genital warts.
At present, HPV vaccination programme uses a vaccine called Gardasil.
Gardasil provides protection against 4 types of HPV: 6, 11, 16 and 18. Out of these, types 16 and 18 cause most of the cervical cancers in the UK (more than 70%).
These HPV types also result in some anal and genital cancers and some cancers of the head and neck.
HPV types 6 and 11 cause around 90% of genital warts, so using Gardasil helps protect girls against both cervical cancer and genital warts.
You can have HPV vaccines privately at Kingsland Pharmacy.
Getting the vaccine will help protect them during their teenage years and beyond.
Most unvaccinated people will be infected with some type of HPV at some time in their life.
In most cases, the virus does not do any harm because their immune system clears the infection.
But in some cases, the infection stays in the body for many years and then, for no apparent reason, it may start to cause damage.
Under NHS, from September 2019, the first dose of the HPV vaccine will be routinely offered to girls and boys aged 12 and 13 in school Year 8.
The second dose is usually offered 6 to 12 months after the first (in school Year 8 or Year 9).
People who miss either of their HPV vaccine doses should speak to their school immunisation team or GP surgery and make an appointment to get up-to-date as soon as possible.
It's important to have both doses of the vaccine to be fully protected.
People who start the HPV vaccination after the age of 15 will need 3 doses as they do not respond as well to 2 doses as younger people do.
The HPV vaccine is currently given as a series of 2 injections into the upper arm.
It's important to have both vaccine doses to be protected.
People who get their first vaccination dose at the age of 15 or older will need to have 3 injections.
Men who have sex with men (MSM), and trans men and trans women who are eligible for the vaccine, will need 3 vaccination doses (2 if they're under 15).
For those who need 3 doses of the vaccine:
the second dose should be given at least 1 month after the first
the third dose should be given ideally within 12 months of the second dose
It's important to have all vaccine doses to be properly protected.
Studies have already shown that the vaccine protects against HPV infection for at least 10 years, although experts expect protection to last for much longer.
But because the HPV vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV that can cause cervical cancer, it's important that all girls who receive the HPV vaccine also have regular cervical screening once they reach the age of 25.