Background and Risk Factors
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection. Seventy nine million Americans, most in their late teens and early 20s, are infected with HPV.1 Most people with HPV do not know they are infected because they never develop symptoms. A person can get HPV by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the virus. There are many different types of HPV, some cause health problems including genital warts and cancers. Now there are vaccines that can stop these health problems from happening.
A vaccine that prevents the types of genital HPV that cause most cases of cervical cancer, anal cancer, and genital warts is now available. The vaccine, Gardasil®, is given in three shots over six months.
The vaccine is routinely recommended for 11 and 12-year-old girls, and also for young women age 13 through 26 who have not yet been vaccinated and who are not yet sexually active or who just recently became sexually active. The vaccine was also recently recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 11 and 12-year-old boys, and also for young men age 13 through 26 who have not yet been vaccinated and who are not yet sexually active or who just recently became sexually active. To learn more about the new vaccine recommendations for both boys and girls, visit the CDC’s website.
Minors aged 12 and over may now consent to the HPV vaccine in California. Learn more about minors’ ability to consent to this vaccine, as well as other STD prevention services, with the passage of AB 499 in October, 2011.
Recommend Barrier Birth Control Methods
Recommend latex condoms and dental dams as well as mutually monogamous relationships to students. These can lower their chances of getting HPV. HPV can infect areas not covered by a condom, so condoms do not fully protect against HPV.
(1) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). Genital HPV Infection – Fact Sheet. https://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpv.htm