About Human Papillomavirus

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a group of more than 120 different viruses. Infection with HPV is associated with the development of anogenital cancers (including cervical, vaginal, vulvar, and anal), oropharyngeal cancer, and genital warts. Approximately 40 HPV genotypes are primarily sexually transmitted from person to person (e.g. genital–genital contact, oral–genital contact, and sexual intercourse) and infect the oral, anal, or genital areas of men and women. However, only 13 genotypes have been shown to cause cervical cancer. Approximately 70% of all cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV genotypes 16 and 18, and 90% of cases of genital warts are caused by HPV genotypes 6 and 11.

Risk for Cervical Cancer

Each year in the United States, cervical cancer is diagnosed in more than 12,000 women, and nearly 4,000 die from the disease. In addition, there are more than 1 million cases of abnormal cytology screening results that require evaluation. Although the implementation of cervical cytology screening programs and treatment of precancerous lesions has led to a decrease in deaths from cervical cancer in the United States, such deaths still occur. Approximately one half of all cases of cervical cancer are found in women who have never had a Pap test, and another 10% occur in patients who have not had one within the past 5 years. Both ongoing cervical cytology screening and HPV vaccination are needed to help reduce these deaths.

Human Papillomavirus Vaccination

Human papillomavirus vaccination can also help reduce the incidence of other anogenital cancers and genital warts and may decrease the incidence of oropharyngeal cancer. Each year in the United States, HPV is believed to cause approximately 2,600 cases of vulvar and vaginal cancer, 4,300 cases of anal cancer, 360,000 cases of genital warts, and more than 8,400 cases of oropharyngeal cancer. Approximately 35% of all cases of anal cancer and 80% of all cases of oropharyngeal cancer are in men.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend the vaccination of females aged 9–26 years against HPV, with the initial vaccination target of females aged 11 or 12 years. The vaccine is most effective if administered prior to active infection with HPV. “Catch up” vaccination is recommended for adolescents and young women aged 13–26 years who have not already received the vaccine or completed the series.

Receiving all recommended HPV vaccine doses does not eliminate the importance of cervical cytology screenings, as 30% of cervical cancers are caused by HPV genotypes that are not vaccine preventable.

View AGOG's Patient Education Human Papillomavirus FAQ, Updated November 2015

Adolescent Health Care

Visit the College's Adolescent Health Care webpage for more information on providing care to your adolescent patients.

2015 Sexually Transmitted Disease Treatment Guidelines

These guidelines for the treatment of persons who have or are at risk for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) were updated by CDC after consultation with a group of professionals knowledgeable in the field of STDs.  Includes updated HPV vaccine recommendations and counseling messages.  View the 2015 STD Guidelines at CDC.gov


Updated 3/29/17

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