Human Papiloma Virus (HPV)

What is Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)?

This is only one of the numerous sexually transmitted diseases in adult population. It may present as unsightly genital viral warts (fleshy grape-like lesions). The infection of the cervix in women can lead to the fairly common cervical cancer later in life.

What causes the disease?

HPV is a virus which infects the males genital tract and also the cervix lining of the female genital tract. There are many types of the virus including the more common types 6 and 11 which cause genital warts. Types 16 and 18 infection is responsible for 70% of cervical cancer caused by HPV.

What is the vaccine and how is it given?

The vaccine is made using a single protein from each of the 4 severe types of HPV. This vaccine is given at late childhood with the aim of preventing cervical cancer in adult life.

It is given by injection into the shoulder muscle in older children with the first dose to be given from 13 to 18 years old. The second dose is 2 months later and the third dose is 6 months after the first dose.

Who should receive the vaccine?

Parents can decide whether to subject their healthy adolescent daughters to the vaccination. As such there are many ethical and moral issues involved especially since there are existing behavioral ways of preventing the spread of HPV.

Last Reviewed : 07 March 2010