What is the HPV vaccine?
The HPV vaccine protects against contraction of the HPV virus and is specifically targeted towards the HPV strains most likely to cause genital warts and cancer.
Clinical studies have documented that the vaccine provides close to 100% protection against genital warts and pre-cancers. HPV-related cancers take 20+ years to incubate within the body.
How effective is the vaccine?
The vaccine is effective in preventing genital warts and pre-cancers in almost all cases. However, the vaccine offers varying degrees of prevention. The two low-risk strains of HPV in the vaccine which cause genital warts offer protection against 90% of the low risk strains
The seven high risk strains of HPV in the vaccine protect against 80% of the strains that cause cervical cancer and an higher percentage of protection against certain other cancers. The high-risk HPV strains in the vaccine represent the most aggressive high-risk strains that exist so the individual who is vaccinated is protected against the most dangerous strains.
Will the vaccine help me get rid of the HPV infection that I now have?
The vaccine is preventive but is not therapeutic. The vaccine will not help decrease the infection from strains that the patient had before being vaccinated.The vaccine will protect only against those strains to which a patient has not been exposed to previously.
When is the best time to get the HPV vaccine?
The HPV vaccine is most effective for those people who have not yet been exposed to the HPV strains in the vaccine. People are encouraged to get the vaccine before they are sexually active or before they have had many sexual contacts.
Adolescents ages 9-14 are advised to get two vaccines over a 6-12-month period. Teens and young adults ages 15-26 need to get three vaccines over a 6-month period.
Can I get the vaccine if I am older than 26?
The vaccine will only give a person protection against those strains in the vaccine to which they have not been previously exposed. The older that a person is the greater the chances are that they had already been exposed to at least one if not several of the strains of HPV. The vaccine will be more effective against more strains of the virus in a person who has had fewer partners. This explains why the vaccine is most effective in people who are younger and/or have had less sexual experience.