HPV (human papillomavirus) and HPV Vaccination
- HPV is a virus.
- There are over 100 different types of HPV. Forty of these affect the genital area. Only a few are considered high risk and are linked to cervical cancer.
- Almost all abnormal Pap smear results are caused by HPV.
- Anyone who has ever had sex can have HPV. It is so common that four out of five people will have had HPV at some time in their lives.
- There is no known cure for HPV. In most cases the virus is cleared by the body’s own immune system in 8 to 14 months.
HPV and the link to cervical cancer
- In rare cases, if high risk types of the virus persist and are not detected they can lead to cervical cancer. This usually takes 10 years or more.
- Seventy percent of the cases of cervical cancer are linked to two strains of the HPV virus: 16 and 18.
- Two vaccines have been developed to prevent HPV infection and cervical cancer. They have been shown to prevent infection from two identified cancer causing strains of HPV: strains 16 and 18.
- The HPV vaccine is available free under the Immunise Australia Program for males and females aged 12-13 years (ongoing program) and males aged 14-15 years as part of a catch up program until the end of 2014.
- More information on HPV and vaccination is available on the HPV vaccination program website at Australia website .
- HPV vaccination is most effective when given before initial exposure to HPV. As HPV is a sexually transmitted virus, it is recommended males and females be vaccinated before becoming sexually active.
- Being vaccinated lowers the chances of becoming infected with the high risk HPV types contained in the vaccine.
- Women, whether vaccinated against HPV or not, should be screened for cervical cancer by having Pap smears every two years from 18 years of age or two years after the first time they have sexual intercourse, whichever is later.
For further information visit the National Cervical Screening Program website at www.cancerscreening.gov.au or contact your doctor, health centre or family planning clinic, or phone 13 15 56 (for the cost of a local call).
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Page currency, Latest update: 19 March, 2013