Human Papilloma Virus

What is HPV?

  • The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a very common sexually transmitted virus. There are many different strains of HPV. Most adults in the United States have been exposed to at least one  type of HPV. In 2005 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that 20 million people in the United States had this virus. Many times this virus goes away before it ever causes a problem.
  • Low risk HPV can cause condyloma or genital warts. This diagnosis can cause a lot of anxiety and stress.
  • High risk HPV can lead to abnormal pap smears and cervical cancer.  There are thirteen types of HPV that are considered high risk. These types of HPV have the potential to progress to cervical cancer if left unmonitored and untreated over many years. Eight out of ten women will test positive for high risk HPV before the age of 50. For this reason, we test all women who are 30 years or older for high risk HPV at the time of your yearly pap smear.  Click here for more information on the Human Papilloma Virus
  • If you test positive for a high risk type of HPV or if there are abnormal cells on your pap smear or if there is a combination of both then a colposcopy will need to be done. A colposcopy is a procedure done in the office that allows your provider to take a closer look at your cervical cells.  Click here for more information on colposcopy


HPV Vaccine

  • Because of the prevalence of HPV, a vaccination has been developed.  The HPV vaccine (Gardasil) is recommended for all women ages 9 to 26.  Gardasil immunizes against the four most common strains of HPV (6, 11, 16, 18); the two most common types that cause genital warts and the two most common types that cause cervical cancer. The vaccine does not protect from all types of HPV. It is also not a treatment for HPV. Most insurance companies cover the vaccination as long as the series is completed prior to the age of 27.  Click here for more information on HPV Vaccines
  • Ideally a woman should complete the vaccination series before she becomes sexually active.
  • The schedule for the vaccination series (which should be completed in 6 months) is as follows:
    • Initial injection at 0 months
    • 2nd injection 2 months after first injection
    • 3rd injection 4 months after the 2nd injection and 6 months after the 1st injection