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If you didn’t get the HPV vaccine when you were in school, it may not be too late to get vaccinated and take advantage of the protection it offers.
HPV is a virus that is easily transmitted during all types of sexual activities (genital, oral, or anal). It is estimated that up to 75% of sexually active people will develop an HPV infection at some point in their lifetime.
Most HPV infections cause few or no symptoms at all. Some infections may cause genital warts (condyloma) that are difficult to detect because they appear flat, are very small or are located inside body cavities. For all these reasons, people who transmit the virus to their partners are usually unaware that they are carrying it.
Most HPV infections heal on their own without treatment. However, in some people, the infection can persist and develop into cancer.
Cancers related to HPV include:
HPV is also the cause of 90% of genital wart (condyloma) cases in men and women.
There are over a hundred strains of HPV, but only a small number of strains cause cancer or genital warts.
In Canada, three HPV vaccines are available, each including different numbers of HPV strains. One protects against only two strains (HPV2), the other protects against four strains (HPV4) and the last one protects against 9 strains (HPV9).
Ideally, the HPV vaccine should be given before the first sexual contact, but it is not too late to take advantage of the vaccine even if it is administered later in life. The vaccine protects against several HPV strains, and may still offer protection against strains that you have not been exposed to.
Depending on the person’s age at the time of the first dose that is given, two or three doses of the HPV vaccine will be needed to provide optimal protection. All injections should be administered within 6 months.
The vaccine is generally administered in the muscle on the upper arm. Some people may experience pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site. A cold compress or numbing cream applied to the injection site or a painkiller such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be used to help ease any discomfort.
Some people may experience side effects such as headaches or fever after receiving the vaccine. These symptoms usually disappear within a day or two.
The HPV vaccine is part of the routine vaccination schedule of school-aged children in some provinces and may also be offered to certain older individuals who are at a higher risk of contracting HPV. While the vaccine is not provided free of charge in every province, your private insurance plan(s) may partially or fully reimburse the cost of the vaccine.
Ask your pharmacist about vaccination services. Similarly, you can also seek HPV vaccinations at vaccination clinics, community healthcare centres or vaccination centers.
[UNIPRIX] - The information contained herein is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide complete information on the subject matter or to replace the advice of a health professional. This information does not constitute medical consultation, diagnosis or opinion and should not be interpreted as such. Please consult your health care provider if you have any questions about your health, medications or treatment.