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The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture

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TEAM UP Tennessee: HPV Prevention

The only sure way to avoid HPV is to abstain from any sexual contact. Staying in a monogamous relationship with someone who has not been infected can also help to prevent HPV. However, because HPV does not usually produce visible signs, many people have HPV and don't know it. This is particularly true in men because there is not currently a screening method to test for HPV in males. Condoms can be up to 70% effective in preventing HPV.

The HPV Vaccine

In the Summer of 2006, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first HPV vaccine, named "Gardasil." Gardasil is currently approved for use in girls aged 9-26 (research is being conducted to expand the upper age limit for approval and possibly open the vaccination to males, as well). Gardasil is designed to protect women against four strains of HPV that cause a majority of HPV related health problems:

  • HPV-16 and HPV-18: which cause up to 70% of cervical cancer cases
  • HPV-6 and HPV-11: which cause up to 90% of genital wart cases

Gardasil is given in three shots at zero, two and six-month intervals and greatly decreases the likelihood of future cervical cancer and/or the contraction of genital warts.

The vaccine is encouraged even if a person has, or had, an HPV infection because it is still able to protect from HPV strains that they've not yet been exposed to. However, once a person is infected by a particular strain, the vaccine can no longer offer protection against that strain.

Recommended age groups of the cervical cancer vaccine ¹
Sex / Age Range Recommendation
Girls / 9-10 Eligible for the vaccine
Girls / 11-12 Recommended age group to receive the cervical cancer vaccine
Girls / 13-18 Eligible to receive the vaccine, if not previously vaccinated for cervical cancer
Women / 19-26 ² Eligible for the vaccine, if not previously vaccinated for cervical cancer
Women / 27-older Not FDA approved
Men Not FDA approved

More Vaccine Information

FAQ about the HPV Vaccines

HPV Vaccine – What You Need to Know

HPV Vaccine Questions & Answers

Human Papillomavirus Vaccine

Patient Information Sheet-Gardasil

1. Source: Gynecologic Cancer Foundation presentation "Cervical Cancer: Prevention, Screening, Evaluation, Treatment".

2. The effectiveness of vaccine may re reduced in this age group. The vaccine is less effective with more prior HPV exposure.