HPV (or human papillomavirus) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. HPV is so common that nearly all sexually active men and women get it at some point in their lives.
In most cases, HPV goes away on its own and does not cause any health problems. But when HPV does not go away, it can be serious. The health problems it can cause include genital warts and cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and throat (including the base of the tongue and tonsils).
HPV is spread through genital contact. Males and females can spread HPV without engaging in sexual intercourse. However, it is most commonly spread through oral, vaginal, or anal sex. HPV can be spread even when an infected person has no signs or symptoms.
A vaccine exists that can protect males and females against HPV. This vaccine is safe and effective.
All boys and girls who are 11- or 12-years-old should get vaccinated. (Rhode Island's school immunization regulations require vaccination for 7th grade students.) Vaccination is also recommended for:
HPV vaccine is given in three shots over six months. It is important that all three doses are given.
Note: Per current ACIP recommendations, adolescents 9 - 14 years of age need 2 doses of HPV vaccine for series completion, and adolescents 15 - 26 years of age need 3 doses for series completion.
HPV vaccine best protects boys and girls who are vaccinated before their potential exposure to HPV. That is why HPV vaccination is recommended at 11 or 12 years of age.
HPV vaccine is available through doctors and at school-based clinics through Vaccinate Before You Graduate.
Routine screening for women aged 21 to 65 years old can prevent cervical cancer.more
The Office of Immunization supplies HPV vaccine to healthcare providers throughout Rhode Island. Additionally, the Office of Immunization partners with the Wellness Company to make HPV vaccine available at school-based clinics through Vaccinate Before You Graduate.