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HPV vaccine Gardasil helps prevent infection

Jessica Gerbes, Nursing Student Intern, and Molly Vetter-Smith, MPH, MEd, RD, State Health Education Specialist, University of Missouri Extension


Human papillomavirus, or HPV, is a viral infection that is spread through sexual contact and can cause genital warts and cervical cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are currently about 20 million people in the U.S. with this sexually transmitted infection (STI).


More than 100 different strands of this virus have been identified. Certain strands of the virus cause genital warts and other strands may cause cervical cancer. More than 4,000 women will die from cervical cancer this year. Of females ages 14 to 19, 57 percent are sexually active and 40 percent of this population are already infected with this possibly fatal virus. Women who are sexually active between the ages of 20 and 59 have a 50 percent infection rate.


It is possible for a woman to have HPV, but not have any symptoms. Gardasil, the HPV vaccine, prevents the infection. Gardasil was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in June 2006. Gardasil is recommended for females ages 9 to 26 to help prevent cervical cancer and genital warts. The vaccine is a three-dose series that can be given by a health care provider. For the vaccine to work, females must get the vaccine before coming in contact with the virus. The most common side effects of Gardasil include fainting, pain at injection site, headache, nausea and fever.


To learn more about the vaccine and how to get vaccinated, speak with a health care provider or call a local public health department, go online to or call the CDC at 1-800-CDC-INFO.


Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA)



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Last Updated 10/01/2010