Human papilloma virus (HPV) can infect different parts of the body. There are over 100 strains of the virus, some of which are transmitted sexually. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in British Columbia and 70% of sexually active Canadians will contract it at some time. It is most common in youth and young adults. HPV can cause genital and anal warts. Certain strains also cause cervical, penile and anal cancers as well as cancers of the head and neck. There are vaccines available that protect against the most common cancer causing strains as well as the strains that most commonly cause genital warts. HPV vaccine is provided free for girls in grade 6 (girls those born after 1994 who did not receive the vaccine in school can get catch up vaccines at our office). The vaccine is also provided free for males age 9-26 who have sex with men (including those who may not be sexually active but are questioning their sexual orientation), are street involved or have HIV. The HPV vaccines are safe and well tolerated.
HPV vaccines are also recommended for other groups but not provided free of charge. Currently the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends HPV vaccine for all females age 9-45, all males aged 9-26 and men who have sex with men, regardless of age. Speak to your physician about whether it is recommended for you and to get a prescription.
Some helpful links for further information about the vaccine: