Stop, Look, Read! HPV Vaccination For You And Your Family
The HPV virus can cause cancers and genital warts. These things can be scary, so why not get vaccinated before HPV can get you! Have a read through, all the facts are right here.
Facts About HPV (Human Papilloma Virus)
HPV is a common virus that can cause cancers and genital warts in both men and women
Without vaccination, 80% of adults will have an HPV infection at some point in their life
In most people, the virus is harmless and causes no symptoms so you may be unaware that you have it
It is shared mainly through sexual skin-to-skin contact
Vaccination against HPV infection has been available for many years and protects against HPV cancers
Why Get Vaccinated?
The HPV Vaccine prevents human papillomavirus (HPV) types that cause several cancers, including:
cervical cancer in females,
vaginal and vulval cancers in females,
anal cancer in females and males,
throat cancer in females and males, and
penile cancer in males.
The HPV Vaccine also prevents HPV types that cause genital warts in both females and males and will prevent most cases of genital warts.
Vaccination is not a substitute for cervical screening. This vaccine protects against most but not all HPV types that cause cervical cancer. Women should still get regular cervical screening tests.
When Should Vaccination Occur?
Vaccination is most effective when given prior to HPV infection, i.e. before becoming sexually active. For people who are already sexually active, the vaccine may still be of benefit as it will prevent the acquisition of new HPV infections for the strains the vaccine covers.
How Effective Is The Vaccine?
Almost all HPV infections that cause abnormal cells and cancer can be prevented by the HPV vaccine. It is highly effective.
How Safe Is The Vaccine?
The vaccine is very safe and no different from other common vaccines. The most common side effect is soreness at the injection site. Millions of doses have now been given all over the world. As for all medicines and vaccines, ongoing surveillance continues to monitor safety.
How Long Does The Vaccine Last For?
Completing the primary vaccination course (2 or 3 doses depending on age) is expected to offer lifelong protection.
How Do You Get Vaccinated And What Will It Cost?
The HPV vaccine (Gardasil 9) is licenced for use in NZ for females aged 9-45 years and males aged 9 -26 years. It is given in 2 or 3 doses depending on age.
2 doses: 9 – 14 years (given over 6 – 12 months)
3 doses: 15+ years (given over 6 months)
The vaccine is free for the following groups:
From January 2017, girls and boys aged 9 to 26 years can receive HPV Immunisation FREE as part of the Ministry of Health’s HPV Immunisation Programme
In 2017, Gardasil 9 will be offered to year 8 students (12-year-olds), both boys and girls, in participating schools through a funded school-based vaccination programme
For females and males aged 9-26 years who do not get vaccinated at school, Gardasil will be available free of charge through their GP or Health Care Provider
The vaccine can also be purchased:
People outside the funded groups can pay for the vaccine
The cost of the full 3 doses will vary but is approximately $500.00
Your family Doctor or Primary Health Care Nurse will be able to give you more information on the cost of the vaccine.
Why Are Males Now Included In The Vaccination Programme?
Research shows that HPV infection is shared during sexual activity and males are at risk of HPV anal, penile and throat cancers, as well as genital warts.
Do You Need To Find Out If You Are Already Infected Before Having The Vaccine?
No. HPV testing is not required before vaccination.
What If You Choose Not To Vaccinate?
As HPV is common and unavoidably shared once you start having sex, if you are not vaccinated you are at risk of infection
There is no effective screening or testing for anal, vulval, penile or throat HPV related infections or cancers, therefore vaccination, ideally before ever having sex, is highly recommended and is the most effective way of preventing HPV.
For women, regular cervical screening will ensure early detection and treatment of HPV related abnormal cells and prevention of most cervical cancer. However, there are no screening programmes for other HPV cancers.
Vaccination And Safer Sex Practices
In addition to HPV vaccination, it is also recommended that men and women continue to protect their sexual health by:
Limiting their number of sexual partners.
Using a condom every time for any casual sexual encounter and with a new partner.
Getting a sexual health check done before having sex with a new partner and after any unprotected sex. It’s simple and well worth your time.
HPV vaccination (and regular cervical screening in females) offers the best protection against HPV Cancers
For the full answers and supporting references addressing the above myths, go to:
JUST THE FACTS is brought to you by the Sexually Transmitted Infections Education Foundation (STIEF) - an initiative funded by the Ministry of Health through collective District Health Boards to educate New Zealanders about STIs.