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What vaccines are available for human papillomavirus (HPV)?

 Dr. Diane Harper
Health Education
There are two human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines: Gardasil and Cervarix.

Gardasil protects against HPV 6 and 11, which cause genital warts, and protects against HPV 16 and 18, the two most common cancer-causing types. Gardasil is proven to work for at least five years, but only if all three doses are taken on time.

Cervarix protects against high-risk HPV types—HPV 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 51, and 52—and has cross-protection shown to prevent 30% of genital warts. Cervarix is proven to work for at least 9.4 years, and still works if only one dose (for four years) or two doses are received.

Both vaccines can only prevent infection with HPV. If you already have the infection, the vaccine will not remove the infection. Likewise, the vaccine will not make the infection progress to a precancer.

If the vaccine wears off too soon, then you have no protection against new infections.

Neither vaccine can protect against all the high-risk cancer-causing types of HPV. Therefore, you must continue to get Pap testing to make sure that you do not get cervical cancer. The HPV vaccines are an option, not a necessity, to help you maintain a healthy cervix. You must personally weigh the benefits and risks of vaccination for your health.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.