What You Need to Know:
Human papillomavirus (HPV) of the genitals is the most common sexually transmitted disease internationally and in the United States. Nearly 80 million Americans have HPV and more than 14 million new cases are diagnosed annually. HPV is transmitted by oral sex, vaginal or anal intercourse, and through touching another person’s genitals. The majority of women contract HPV within a few years of becoming sexually active and most HPV infections are undetected after nine months, a phenomenon known as “clearance”.
HPV is known to cause cervical cancer in women and oropharyngeal cancer in men. Black and Hispanic women have higher rates of cervical cancer; whereas, white and non-Hispanic men have higher rates of oropharyngeal cancer. Additional types of cancers caused by HPV include vulvar and vaginal (70%), penile (60%), and anal (90%).
Prior to implementation of the HPV vaccine there were approximately 350,000 cases of male and female genital warts reported each year. Since the vaccine became available in 2006 these numbers have decreased, especially in the younger population including persons aged teens through 20s. Despite the known benefits of HPV vaccine, recent reports have shown that HPV vaccination rates for boys and girls are lower in the U.S. than in other westernized countries. Possible reasons may include the lack of HPV vaccine recommendation by healthcare providers, refusal of the vaccine by parents due to safety concerns, the lack of their perceived risk for development of HPV in their child, or the belief that the vaccine may encourage sexual behavior.
The HPV vaccine series should be incorporated into a routine vaccination schedule for males and females between the ages of 11 and 12 years of age. HPV vaccine is also recommended for men who have sex with men and for men who are immunocompromised through age 26. Females aged 13 to 26, and males aged 13 to 21 who were never given the HPV vaccine are also strongly encouraged to have the full series.
Read more about HPV and HPV vaccine:
CURRENT Diagnosis and Treatment Pediatrics: Chapter 10. Immunization > Human Papillomavirus Vaccination
Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, 20e: Chapter 193. Human Papillomavirus Infections
Williams Obstetrics, 25e: Chapter 65. Sexually Transmitted Infections > Human Papillomavirus
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: What Parents Should Know about HPV Vaccine Safety and Effectiveness