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Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

What is it?

HPV is a common virus that infects about 14 million people, including men, women, and teens, every year. Some HPV infections can lead to certain types of cancer. It is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the U.S. and can cause cervical cancer in women, as well as oral, anal, and other cancers in men and women.


Most of the time there are no symptoms, and most HPV infections go away on their own. Some HPV types (the high-risk ones) will cause an ongoing (chronic) infection. Chronic HPV infection can lead to cancer. HPV can also cause genital warts, which can be uncomfortable and irritating and can reoccur. Sometimes genital warts spread to a baby during birth and infect the baby’s lungs and airway.

How does it spread?

There are more than 100 types of human papillomaviruses, and about 40 of them are spread through sexual contact. You can get HPV by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the virus. It is most commonly spread during vaginal or anal sex. HPV is so common that nearly all men and women get it at some point in their lives.


All preteens (including girls and boys) at age 11–12 years, should receive two doses of HPV vaccine 6 to 12 months apart.
Teens and young adults through age 26 years who didn’t start or finish the HPV vaccine series, 2- or 3-dose series
Age 27-45 years, based on shared clinical decision-making, 2- or 3-dose series

Disease and Vaccine Impact

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a very common virus that can lead to cancer. Nearly 80 million people — about one in four — are currently infected with HPV in the United States. About 14 million people, including teens, become infected with HPV each year.

In the U.S., nearly 35,000 people are estimated to be affected by a cancer caused by HPV infection each year. While there is screening for cervical cancer that can detect cancer early, there is no recommended screening for the other cancers caused by HPV infection, like cancers of the back of the throat, anus, penis, vagina, or vulva.

HPV vaccine provides safe, effective, and lasting protection against the HPV infections that most commonly cause cancer.