Immunise to Maximise

Learn how HPV Vaccination can minimise your risk of cervical cancer and maximise your life.

What is Human Papillomavirus (HPV)?

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a group of common viruses that cause infections in both men and women. It is estimated that 8 out of 10 people will get HPV at some point in their lifetime. Most HPV infections clear up on their own and do not cause any problems. However, persistent infection by certain HPV types can cause cancer and other diseases overtime.

 

HPV infection can cause several cancers. Virtually all cervical cancer cases (99%) are linked to genital infection with HPV. HPV can also cause other cancers such as anal cancer, mouth cancer, throat cancer, vaginal cancer, vulvar cancers and penile cancer.

 

HPV infection has no treatment or cure. The best way to help prevent HPV infection is to get vaccinated.

    HPV germs

 

FAQs

1. Who is at risk of HPV infection?

HPV is a common skin infection. Most people infected by genital HPV have no clear history of contact. However, the risk of infection is higher for individuals with:


Multiple sexual partners: The greater the number of sexual partners, the higher is your risk of HPV infection. Having sexual activity with a partner who has had multiple sex partners can also increase your risk. While using condoms can help reduce the risk of HPV infection, it does not cover all genital skin nor guarantees 100% protection.


Weakened immune system: People with weakened immune systems (e.g. may be due to Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) / Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) or on immune-system suppressing drugs) are at higher risk of HPV infection.

2. How is HPV transmitted?

• HPV infection is very common in men and women
• It can be transmitted through genital skin-to-skin contact during sexual activity, by sharing contaminated sex toys and very rarely, during delivery from the infected mother to the baby.
• HPV cannot be passed by sitting on toilet seats or touching the door knobs

3. What are the signs or symptoms of HPV infection?

• Some HPV infection may cause genital warts
• High-risk HPV infection of the cervix does not cause any signs and symptoms. The abnormality on the cervix is detectable by cervical screening (Pap smear test) and by specific HPV test

 

4. Can HPV be treated?

 • The virus itself cannot be treated. Most HPV infections (90% of the cases) go away on its own without any treatment
• Although HPV virus cannot be treated, regular Pap smear can help to detect changes in the cervical cells caused by HPV infection
• With appropriate treatment, the abnormal or pre-cancerous cells can be prevented from developing into cervical cancer

6. Who are the vaccines for?

• The vaccines are approved for use in females aged 9 to 26 years old (depending on the specific vaccine being administered)
• The vaccines are most effective if given before first sexual exposure, in girls and women who have yet been exposed to the HPV types covered by the vaccine (HPV sub-types 6, 11, 16, 18)
• Girls and women who are sexually active may still benefit from the vaccine, as they may not be exposed to the HPV sub- types covered by the vaccine. They should speak to their doctor to determine if they are suitable for the vaccination.

8. I have a young daughter. Should she be vaccinated?


• The vaccine is approved for females aged 9 years to 26 years (depending on the specific vaccine being administered)
• The vaccines are most effective in protecting against the selected HPV sub-types if given before your daughter is exposed to them (usually through sexual activity)
• It is advisable to speak to your doctor to find out more about HPV vaccination
• Once you have understood the benefits, risks and limitations of the vaccines, the decision to proceed with vaccination is a personal one

9. Are HPV vaccines compulsory?


No, HPV vaccines are not compulsory but recommended as prevention against cervical cancer

10. How long does the protection last?


• Currently available evidence demonstrates a sustained protection against vaccine-targeted HPV-related diseases in long term follow up studies for both vaccines
• There is currently no recommendation for additional doses or boosters shots

11. Are the vaccines safe and effective?


• The two vaccines have been approved as safe and effective
• Long-term safety and efficacy are still under evaluation
• The vaccines consist neither the viruses or any infectious material This means you cannot get HPV infection from the vaccines

12. Are HPV vaccines 100% effective in preventing cervical cancer?


• No. As with any vaccination, HPV vaccinations do not guarantee 100% protection
• HPV vaccinations are not substitutes for routine cervical cancer screening
• Women who received vaccination are still encouraged to continue going for Pap smear once every three years

13. I'm pregnant / breastfeeding. Should I be vaccinated?


• HPV vaccines are not recommended for pregnant females
• If you discover that you are pregnant after receiving 1 or 2 doses of the vaccine, it is recommended that you postpone the remaining dose(s) till after you deliver
• If you discover you are pregnant after completing 3 doses of the vaccine, it is not necessary to terminate your pregnancy
• Gardasil may be given to lactating females because available data do not indicate any safety concerns. However, Cervarix's safety data for lactating females are not available yet.

14. I was diagnosed with a cervical abnormality that my doctor said may lead to cervical cancer (e.g. 'cervical intraepithelial neoplasia' or CIN). Should I get the HPV vaccination?


It is best to talk to your doctor who will be able to advise you if the vaccine is suitable for you and also, how often you should be going for your Pap smears

15. Should my son go for HPV vaccination?


• Currently the National Childhood Immunisation Schedule (NCIS) only includes HPV vaccination for females aged 9 to 26 years old
• The decision to proceed with vaccination is a personal choice
• We advise you to speak to your doctor to find out more about the benefits and limitations of vaccinating your son against HPV