Human Papilloma Virus

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Human Papilloma Virus, also known as HPV, is a DNA virus that can affect the skin and the moist membranes that line parts of the body. This includes the lining of the mouth, the cervix, the vagina, the anus[1]. When a person is infected with HPV, the virus can cause serious health problems which include genital warts and certain cancers (e.g. cervical cancer). The virus can be passed through genital contact, often during vaginal and anal sex. The HPV virus can be prevented by getting HPV vaccines which are safe and effective. The vaccine can protect both males and females against some common types of HPV that could cause health problems. As HPV virus is a group of related viruses, the first HPV vaccine contained HPV 16 and HPV 18 virus subtypes, which had the potential to prevent around 70% of all cervical cancers[2]. The NHS cervical cancer vaccination programme for girls aged between 12 and 13 offers Gardasil as it not only prevents them from 2 different types of HPV but also genital warts. The vaccine is given as 2 doses in a 6 - 24 months window[3]. There is currently no treatment for the virus itself[4][5].


  2. Hardin J, Bertoni G, Becker W. Becker’s World of the Cell. 9th Edition, Harlow, UK: Pearson Education Limited. 2017
  3. (, 2014)
  5., (2014). Human papilloma virus (HPV) cervical cancer vaccine - NHS Choices. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Oct. 2014].
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