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What is Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) Infection?

HPV infection is a common viral infection that causes growths (warts) on the skin or mucous membranes (inner lining of a body cavity e.g. vagina or gut). There are over 100 different types of HPV, some causing warts in the genital area and some on the skin e.g. plantar warts on the feet. Genital warts are common and can be passed from one person to another during sexual activity. Certain types of genital HPV infection can cause cancer of the cervix (the lower part of the womb that protrudes into the vagina). Cancer relating to genital HPV infection can also occur in the anus, penis, vagina, vulva and back of the throat.1

visual: female reproductive system combined with human papilloma virus

Human Papilloma Virus

You can reduce your risk of developing genital HPV infection by: 1

  • Receiving the HPV vaccine
  • Being in a mutually monogamous sexual relationship
  • Reducing your number of sex partners
  • Using a latex condom, which can reduce your risk of getting infected

The HPV vaccine

Vaccines are available that help protect against the strains of HPV that are most likely to cause genital warts or cancer of the cervix 1

Who should receive the HPV vaccine?

All adolescents and teenagers both boys and girls, aged 9 to 14 years should receive two doses of HPV vaccine, at least six months apart to protect against cancers caused by HPV. Teens and young adults who begin the vaccine series later, at ages 15 through 26, should receive three doses of the vaccine, given over 6 months 2,3

HPV vaccines are available in store at your local Medicare pharmacy. Speak to your Medicare Pharmacy Healthcare Professional about the HPV vaccine for your child. Select Medicare pharmacies also offer pap smears (screening test for cancer of the cervix).

References:  1. Mayo Clinic. HPV infection. [online] 2017 Aug 22 [cited 2018 Jun 21]. Available from: URL: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hpv-infection/symptoms-causes/syc-20351596. 2. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention Press Release. CDC recommends only two HPV shots for younger adolescents. [online] 2016 Oct 19 [cited 2018 Jun 21]. Available from URL: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p1020-hpv-shots.html. 3. American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccination. [online] 2017 June 1 [cited 2018 Jun 21] Available from: URL: https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Human-Papillomavirus-HPV-Vaccination

 

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