- What is HPV?
- Can a vaccine help prevent HPV?
- Are the HPV vaccines safe?
- Who should be vaccinated against HPV and when?
- What are the benefits of the HPV vaccines?
- How much do the HPV vaccines cost? Are they covered by health insurance plans?
- Do women who have been vaccinated against HPV still need Pap tests?
- Can cervical cancer be prevented without a HPV vaccine?
- To learn more
What are the benefits of the HPV vaccines?
All the HPV vaccines help prevent infection by the HPV types 16 and 18, and can help prevent cervical cancer.
Gardasil and Gardasil 9 have been shown to prevent anal, vulvar, and vaginal cancers and pre-cancers linked to these 2 types of HPV. They also help prevent genital and anal warts by preventing infection with HPV types 6 and 11. Gardasil 9 also protects against 5 other high-risk types of HPV (31, 33, 45, 52 and 58) and so provides additional protection against cancers caused by these types of HPV.
Cervarix also seems to offer protection against some other high-risk types. It has also has been found to help protect against HPV infection of the mouth and throat and the anus. Although in theory it could help protect against cancers caused by HPV besides cervical cancer, so far that hasn’t been shown in studies.
The vaccines only work in people who have not already been exposed to these types of HPV. The vaccines will not prevent HPV in those who have already had these HPV types.
It’s possible that the vaccines could also prevent some other HPV-related cancers, including some cancers of the penis and head and neck areas. It will be some time before studies can prove whether they will help prevent these cancers.
Is the American Cancer Society in favor of vaccinating against HPV?
Yes. The Society has been involved in providing reliable and unbiased information to the public and to health care providers. The Society emphasizes the ongoing need to follow screening guidelines, such as getting regular Pap tests and HPV tests to find cervical cancers and pre-cancers early, and the critical need to ensure that the vaccines are available to the medically underserved.
Last Medical Review: 04/09/2014
Last Revised: 02/03/2016