Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
HPV infections are so common that nearly all men and women will get at least one type of HPV at some point in their lives. HPV is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. It can be spread during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Most people who become infected with HPV will not have any symptoms and will clear the infection on their own. Some of these HPVs are called "high-risk" types and can cause abnormal Pap tests, cervical cancer, and other cancers in both men and women. Others are called "low-risk" types, and can cause mild Pap test abnormalities or genital warts, growths or bumps that may appear shaped like cauliflower.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the HPV vaccine for both boys and girls by age 11 or 12. Catch-up vaccination is available until age 26. The current HPV vaccine available in the U.S. offers protection against most HPV cancers, including cervical cancers as well as cancers of the vagina, vulva, anus and penis. While studies have not been done for non-reproductive system HPV-related cancers, the vaccine protects against the type of HPV that can cause oropharyngeal cancers. The HPV vaccine may also prevent oropharyngeal cancers.