HPV & HPV Vaccination
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is responsible for practically all cases of cervical cancer. It is also responsible for many other cancers including anal, vulva, vagina and oropharyngeal (throat) cancers. It also causes cancer of the penis, anus and oropharynx cancers in men. In addition, some strains of HPV cause warts in the genital region. HPV is usually transmitted by sexual contact but it is important to understand that most HPV infections do not cause cancer because the infection will naturally clear through our immune systems. However there are some HPV types that are more aggressive and if these remain within the body, the cells start to change and eventually may turn cancerous.
Recent advances have improved the screening for cervical cancer by HPV testing. These ‘high-risk’ types are the only HPV types that can cause cancer. The testing is similar to having a pap smear and is relatively painless, taking 1-2 minutes.
There are highly effective HPV vaccines available, that can protect against infection by the most aggressive strains of HPV and also genital warts. These vaccines are capable of preventing up to 90-95% of cervical cancer. Both females and males can have the vaccine.