Protect yourself against warts and cancer with HPV vaccination
What is HPV?
HPV is the human papillomavirus, of which there are >100 types. Most types do not cause any symptoms, but types 6 and 11 cause genital warts.
Types 16 and 18 can lead to cancers in the anus, throat and penis in men and cervical cancer in women.
How is HPV infection spread?
HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the UK. It is spread mainly through skin to skin contact.
Genital HPV infections are associated with sexual contact. The risk of infection increases with the number of partners you and/or your partners have.
Can HPV infection be prevented?
Condoms offer some protection but do not cover all the skin that can have and pass on the virus.
The best way to protect yourself is to get vaccinated. The vaccine we offer to MSM (men who have sex with men) attending GUM (Sexual Health) clinics is called Gardasil. It protects against the four HPV types 6, 11, 16 and 18 that can cause cancers and genital warts.
The vaccine is a course of 3 injections that can be completed within 4 to 12 months and available to MSM up to and including 45 years old.
Does the vaccine have any side effects?
Like most injections, the side effects are mild. A small area of soreness, swelling and redness in the arm are common but wear off in a couple of days.
More serious side effects are extremely rare.
The vaccine has passed strict safety standards for use in the UK. Millions of doses of the vaccine have already been given to girls worldwide.