About HPV

HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccination

Human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine

HPV vaccine is important because it protects against cancers caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. HPV is a very common virus. There are over 200 types of HPV, because it's so common, most people will get infected at some point in their life. Most people with HPV never develop symptoms or health problems.

Most HPV infections (9 out of 10) go away by themselves within two years. But, sometimes, HPV infections will last longer, and can cause certain cancers and other diseases. HPV infection can cause:

  • Cancers of the cervix, vagina, and vulva in women;
  • Cancers of the penis in men; and
  • Cancers of the anus and back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils (oropharynx), in both women and men.

HPV vaccine for girls

All girls aged 12 to 13 are offered HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccination as part of the NHS childhood vaccination programme. The vaccine used protects against the two types of HPV, between them responsible for more than 70% of cervical cancers in the UK. The vaccine does not protect you against all other types of HPV that cause cancer, so you will still need to start going for regular cervical screening (smear tests) when you reach the appropriate age. This combination of immunisation and cervical screening offers the best possible protection against cervical cancer.

The vaccine also protects against two other types of HPV that cause about 90% of the cases of genital warts.

For more information about the vaccination for girls: Human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine

HPV vaccine for MSM

The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is now available in Wales from sexual health and HIV clinics to Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) who are up to and including 45 years of age. The risk of anal cancer in MSM is higher than in heterosexual men. This is because MSM are not getting the protection that heterosexual men are getting from the girls' immunisation programme. If you are living with HIV, this risk is higher again.

HPV immunisation is a very effective way to reduce your risk of genital warts and your risk of developing cancer caused by HPV.

For more information about the vaccination for MSM: Human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine - MSM

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Public Health Wales